Varban OA, Ardestani A, Peyre S, and Smink DS. Assessing the effectiveness of surgical skills laboratories: a national survey. Simul Healthc.2013 Apr;8(2):91-7.

PMID: 23334363


Surgical skills laboratories have gained widespread use in surgery residency training. Although the availability of simulators and skills laboratories has expanded, little is known about their use and effect on residency training.

An online survey consisting of 18 questions was distributed to all members of the Association of Program Directors in Surgery. The survey addressed surgical skills laboratory funding, types of simulators, curricula, tools for evaluation, and opinions on successful implementation of a skills laboratory. Statistical analysis was performed on data obtained from completed surveys.

A total of 248 programs were invited to respond to the survey, and 81 responses were obtained (33% response rate). Among programs that responded, most mandate time for residents to use their skills laboratory (76%), and most offer a formal curriculum (63%). Few programs require demonstrated proficiency before participating in the operating room (16%), and only 55% of responders believed that their resident's overall intraoperative technical skills had improved since the implementation of their skills laboratory. Respondents believed that interns derive the most benefit from their skills laboratory when compared with all other years of surgical training (P < 0.001). Faculty participation was most commonly considered as the most important factor for successful implementation of a surgical skills laboratory, regardless of program characteristics.

Among surgical residency programs that responded to the survey, most programs schedule time for residents to use a skills laboratory, and most use a curriculum. Those surveyed report that interns derive the most benefit, whereas chief residents derive the least. They also believe that faculty participation is the most important aspect to successful implementation of a skills laboratory.