Purpose: The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has called for the development of new tools for teaching and assessment in core residency competencies. Aims of this study were to respond to this mandate by developing an objective method of evaluating the surgical skills of ophthalmology residents in a microsurgery laboratory environment that could become a part of the ophthalmic surgical curriculum and competency determination, and to evaluate the face and content validity of this assessment by surveying experts in the field. Design: Survey. Participants: Twenty-two content experts (residency program directors and faculty members involved with resident surgical training). Methods: We have developed a 3-station (skin suturing, muscle recession, phacoemulsification/wound construction and suturing technique) wet laboratory surgical skills obstacle course for ophthalmology residents. Each station includes instructions to the resident for completing the task as well as assessment forms, a station-specific checklist, and a global rating scale of performance, for expert surgeons to complete while reviewing the resident's videotaped performance. To establish face and content validity, content experts were sent a detailed explanation of the assessment along with a survey to facilitate constructive feedback. Main Outcome Measures: Survey responses. Results: Experts felt that the Eye Surgical Skills Assessment Test (ESSAT) is a useful and representative tool for assessing surgical skills of residents. Suggestions were incorporated, thus establishing the face and content validity. Conclusions: The ESSAT has face and content validity. This tool will be useful for assessing residents' surgical skills in a laboratory environment and the impact of various teaching methods on performance. Further studies to establish the interrater reliability and construct validity of the ESSAT are underway.
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