The Case for Simulation-Based Mastery Learning Education Courses for Practicing Surgeons

Lauren M. Baumann*, Katherine A. Barsness

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Pediatric surgeons rely on simulation courses to develop skills for safe minimally invasive repair of complex congenital anomalies. The majority of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) training courses occur during short "exposure courses" at annual conferences. Little data are available to support the benefit of these courses relative to the safe implementation of new skills. The purpose of this article is to determine the impact of an exposure course for advanced neonatal MIS on self-perceived comfort levels with independent performance of advanced MISs. Methods: Participants of a 4-hour hands-on course for neonatal MIS were surveyed regarding clinical practices and pre-and post-training perceived "comfort levels" of MIS skills for thoracoscopic esophageal atresia with tracheoesophageal fistula (tTEF) repair, thoracoscopic left upper lobe pulmonary lobectomy (tLobe), and laparoscopic duodenal atresia (lapDA) repair. Descriptive analyses were performed. Results: Seventeen participants completed pre-and postcourse surveys. The majority of participants had no prior experience with tLobe (59%) or lapDA (53%), and 35% had no experience with tTEF repair. Similarly, the majority were "not comfortable" with these procedures. After the short course, the majority of surgeons reported that they were "likely to perform" these operations within 6 months, despite low levels of baseline experience and comfort levels. Conclusion: An exposure training course led to immediate perception of increased skills and confidence. However, these courses typically do not provide basic tenets of expert performance that demands deliberate practice. Future course design should transition to a mastery learning framework wherein regular skill assessments, milestones, and unlimited education time are prioritized before implementation of the new skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1125-1128
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Laparoendoscopic and Advanced Surgical Techniques
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Mastery learning
  • neonatal malformations
  • simulation-based education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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