Background: The transfer validity of portable laparoscopy simulation is well established. However, attempts to integrate take-home simulation into surgical training have met with inconsistent engagement worldwide, as for example in our 2014-15 study of an Incentivised Laparoscopy Practice programme (ILPv1). Drawing on learning from our subsequent multi-centre study examining barriers and facilitators, we revised the programme for 2018 onwards. We now report on engagement with the 2018-2022 versions of this home-based simulation programme (ILP v2.1-2.3).
Methods: In ILP v2.1-2.3, three consecutive year-groups of new-start Core Surgical Trainees (n = 48, 46 and 53) were loaned portable simulators. The 6-month education programme included induction, technical support, and intermittent feedback. Six tasks were prescribed, with video instruction and charting of metric scores. Video uploads were required and scored by faculty. A pass resulted in an eCertificate, expected at Annual Review (but not mandatory for progression). ILP was set within a wider reform, "Improving Surgical Training".
Results: ILP v2.1-2.3 saw pass rates of 94%, 76% and 70% respectively (45/48, 35/46 and 37/53 trainees), compared with only 26% (7/27) in ILP v1, despite now including some trainees not intending careers in laparoscopic specialties. The ILP v2.2 group all reported their engagement with the whole simulation strategy was hampered by the COVID19 pandemic.
Conclusions: Simply providing take-home simulators, no matter how good, is not enough. To achieve trainee engagement, a whole programme is required, with motivated learners, individual and group practice, intermittent feedback, and clear goals and assessments. ILP is a complex intervention, best understood as a "reform within a reform, within a context."
Keywords: Curriculum reform; Deliberate practice; Laparoscopy; Surgical simulation; Surgical training; Trainee engagement.
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