The development and evaluation of "Training the trainer" curriculum for surgical residents: Feasibility study

Int J Surg. 2022 Jan 7;98:106209. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2021.106209. Online ahead of print.


Background: Over the last decades, there has been greater emphasis on enhancing teaching skills and concepts of Train-The-Trainer (TTT) have been widely adopted across surgical training programs. Current TTT curricula, however, mostly address teaching generic principles without specific guidance on how to teach technical skills among residents. The aim of this proof-of-concept study was to design a bespoke TTT curriculum for surgical technical skills and evaluate its impact.

Material and methods: A bespoke TTT curriculum was developed to address key teaching surgical skills including a training framework, and performance enhancing feedback. The curriculum was delivered to 41 junior surgical residents in this feasibility study and focused on promoting a training framework including three domains; "set" involving pre-operative preparation, "dialogue" referring to teaching techniques and "closure" covering structured feedback. It was evaluated using Kirkpatrick's model: (i) course feedback; (ii) training quality assessment on a suturing simulated scenario using (a) Competency Assessment Tool (CAT) and a (b) Structured Training Trainer Assessment Report (STTAR) tool; (iii-iv) follow-up survey after one year.

Results: The TTT curriculum was well-perceived, with a median score of 4/5 ("agree") across all components of evaluation forms. The simulated training scenario demonstrated a significant reduction in suturing errors following delivery of training (pre-TTT [4.25; IQR:4.42]; post-TTT [2.34; IQR:2.38], p-value = 0.014). Improvement in teaching was also noted and reflected in 'Set' (pre-TTT [3.50; IQR: 3.00] and post-TTT [5.00; IQR: 0.00], p-value = 0.019) and 'Closure' (pre-TTT [4.75; IQR: 1.88] and post-TTT [5.00; IQR: 0.00], p value = 0.007). 25% of participants contributed to the long-term survey highlighting that most practiced skills within 6 months of the curriculum with positive feedback from their learners.

Conclusion: This proof-of-concept study confirms the feasibility and acceptability of delivering a bespoke Train-The-Trainer curriculum to surgical residents. It provides a structured training framework that can enhance teaching technical skills.

Keywords: Evaluation; Kirkpatrick; Residency; Surgery; Train-the-trainer.