Resident Surgeons Underrate Their Laparoscopic Skills and Comfort Level When Compared with the Rating by Attending Surgeons

Mitchell B. Alameddine, Jake Claflin, Christopher P. Scally, David M. Noble, Bradley N. Reames, Michael J. Englesbe, Sandra L. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective The development of operative skills during general surgery residency depends largely on the resident surgeons' (residents) ability to accurately self-assess and identify areas for improvement. We compared evaluations of laparoscopic skills and comfort level of residents from both the residents' and attending surgeons' (attendings') perspectives. Design We prospectively observed 111 elective cholecystectomies at the University of Michigan as part of a larger quality improvement initiative. Immediately after the operation, both residents and attendings completed a survey in which they rated the residents' operative proficiency, comfort level, and the difficulty of the case using a previously validated instrument. Residents' and attendings' evaluations of residents' performance were compared using 2-sided t tests. Setting The University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, MI. Large academic, tertiary care institution. Participants All general surgery residents and faculty at the University of Michigan performing laparoscopic cholecystectomy between June 1 and August 31, 2013. Data were collected for 28 of the institution's 54 trainees. Results Attendings rated residents higher than what residents rated themselves on a 5-point Likert-type scale regarding depth perception (3.86 vs. 3.38, p < 0.005), bimanual dexterity (3.75 vs. 3.36, p = 0.005), efficiency (3.58 vs. 3.18, p < 0.005), tissue handling (3.69 vs. 3.23, p < 0.005), and comfort while performing a case (3.86 vs. 3.38, p < 0.005). Attendings and residents were in agreement on the level of autonomy displayed by the resident during the case (3.31 vs. 3.34, p = 0.85), the level of difficulty of the case (2.98 vs. 2.85, p = 0.443), and the degree of teaching done by the attending during the case (3.61 vs. 3.54, p = 0.701). Conclusions A gap exists between residents' and attendings' perception of residents' laparoscopic skills and comfort level in performing laparoscopic cholecystectomy. These findings call for improved communication between residents and attendings to ensure that graduates are adequately prepared to operate independently. In the context of changing methods of resident evaluations that call for explicitly defined competencies in surgery, it is essential that residents are able to accurately self-assess and be in general agreement with attendings on their level of laparoscopic skills and comfort level while performing a case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1240-1246
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Key Words internship/residency
  • clinical competence
  • education
  • general surgery/education
  • graduate/standards
  • medical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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