Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Retention of Surgical Knot-Tying Skills for Second-Year Medical Students: Performance and Timed Assessments of Skill Levels Over Time

Gail Heimburger, MEd
University of Cincinnati

The purpose of the study was to look at the retention of surgical knot-tying skill performance assessment and time-on-task outcomes over time (in weeks). Forty-five second year medical student participants volunteered and represented 29% of the Class of 2007. The skill of the surgeon’s knot and square (reef) knot was learned and practiced in a one hour session. Each participant was required to complete one sequence of knots prior to baseline assessment. For baseline and retesting, each participant completed 3 attempts to tie the sequence and each attempt was timed. An average performance assessment and time-on-task was recorded. No practice was allowed between baselines and retesting. The retesting assessment occurred at 3, 5, 7, or 10 weeks. Performance assessment scores declined significantly (p<.05) over the 10 week interval and the time-on-task increased significantly (p<.05) when no practice occurred. Since the last significant drop in skill performance assessment occurred by the 7th week, a refresher session for surgical knot-tying training should occur at that time, or the skills of surgical knot-tying should not be offered until the clerkship when practice would be integral part of clerkship participation.