Exploring Australasian surgical trainees' satisfaction with operating theatre learning using the 'surgical theatre educational environment measure'

ANZ J Surg. 2010 Dec;80(12):884-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-2197.2010.05430.x. Epub 2010 Aug 16.


Background: Surgical trainees' operating theatre (OT) experiences significantly influence their ability to attain key professional competencies. A measure of trainees' satisfaction with this learning environment would allow recognition of characteristics of highly successful teaching venues and threats to trainee development. Our study aimed to validate the Surgical Theatre Educational Environment Measure (STEEM) and use it to explore Australasian surgical trainees' satisfaction with OT learning.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study, the STEEM was distributed electronically to all 1500 Royal Australasian College of Surgeons trainees in Australia and New Zealand. Trainee satisfaction was gauged using Likert-type items, an overall satisfaction measure and content analysis of free-text comments. The STEEM's psychometric properties were evaluated using exploratory factor analysis.

Results: Three hundred fifty-six responses were received. The STEEM's original subscales were not supported by the data; empirically grounded subscales were identified for further analysis. Most trainees were satisfied with their OT environment and satisfaction was higher in senior than junior trainees. Trainees' relationship with their supervisor correlated most strongly with overall satisfaction. Less positively, only half of trainees report discussing their operative role with their supervisor prior to surgery.

Conclusions: The a priori STEEM subscales could not be replicated by factor analysis. We developed an empirically grounded instrument capable of identifying areas of trainee concern. The majority of trainees reported high levels of satisfaction. The revised instrument has potential to complement other sources of information to facilitate surgical supervisors' difficult task of optimizing trainees' compatibility with their OT learning environments.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Australia
  • Clinical Competence
  • Cohort Studies
  • Competency-Based Education / organization & administration*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / organization & administration
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Operating Rooms*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Students / psychology*