The Incorporation of Hands-On Surgical Training in a Congenital Heart Surgery Training Curriculum

Ann Thorac Surg. 2021 Nov;112(5):1672-1680. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2020.11.018. Epub 2020 Dec 9.


Background: The monthly in-house Hands-On Surgical Training (HOST) program was incorporated into the congenital heart surgery (CHS) curriculum for surgical trainees within our institution. This study evaluated whether there was an improvement and retention of technical skills throughout the curriculum via objective assessment methods.

Methods: Twelve 3-dimensional-printed surgical heart models were included into the year-long curriculum. The monthly sessions were attended by all trainees and staff surgeons. Proctors demonstrated the operation on a model, which was followed by 2 attempts by each trainee. Attempts were recorded for objective assessment. On completion of the curriculum trainees repeated 4 procedures an additional 2 times after a delay to assess skill retention.

Results: Twelve sessions were completed by 7 trainees within the curriculum. Objective assessments were performed in 7 sessions. Eighty-one percent of trainees' scores improved between the 2 attempts, with a mean improvement of 13% (attempt 1: HOST-CHS score of 79, attempt 2: HOST-CHS score of 89; P < .001). Similarly, 91% of procedural times improved by a mean of 25% (attempt 1, 1:22:00 [hours:minutes:seconds]; attempt 2, 1:01:21; P < .001). During individual procedure analysis, statistical significance remained in 3 of 7 procedures (P < .05). Four procedures were assessed for skill retention after a delay (2-14 months). Scores decreased by 4% in 47% of trainees during attempt 3 (attempt 2: HOST-CHS score of 94, attempt 3: HOST-CHS score of 91; P = .34) but improved in 79% during attempt 4 (attempt 3: HOST-CHS score of 91, attempt 4: HOST-CHS score of 99; P = .004), matching their previous performance.

Conclusions: The monthly HOST course was successfully incorporated into a training curriculum for CHS surgeons using objective assessments to measure technical performance. Trainees demonstrated an improvement across all evaluated procedures and retained their skills when reassessed after a delay highlighting its value in CHS training.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Thoracic Surgery / education*