Quantitative evaluation of retention of surgical skills learned in simulation

J Surg Educ. 2010 Nov-Dec;67(6):421-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2010.05.005. Epub 2010 Nov 5.


Background: While initial results suggest that simulation does promote learning, there is a dearth of studies that define the extent to which skills learned through simulation are retained.

Methods: Residents skills were measured upon completion of an initial simulation training (baseline scores) and then every month for 6 months. Analysis was also performed to identify the number of iterations of practice required to regain baseline scores.

Results: While skill scores did not deteriorate from baseline after the first 3 months (p = 0.61, p = 0.44, p = 0.2, respectively), all scores (except time elapsed) reflected significant deterioration from the fourth month onward (p < 0.05, p < 0.032, p < 0.02). However the number of practice sessions required to regain baseline scores was significantly less than that required to achieve the baseline skill set (p < 0.0003).

Conclusions: Skills learned through simulation show significant deterioration over long periods of time, suggesting that periodic retraining of skills may be necessary to maintain surgical proficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Patient Simulation
  • Retention, Psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • User-Computer Interface*