The importance of non-technical skills to surgical performance is gaining wide acceptance. This article discusses the core cognitive and social skills categories thought to underpin medical knowledge and surgical expertise, and describes the rise of non-technical skill models of assessment in surgery. Behavior rating systems such as NOTSS (Non-Technical Skills for Surgeons) have been developed to support education and assessment in this regard. We now understand more about these critical skills and how they impact surgery. The challenge in the future is to incorporate them into undergraduate teaching, postgraduate training, workplace assessment, and perhaps even selection.
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