Critical assessment of the head and neck clinical skills of general surgery residents

David A. Sloan, Michael B. Donnelly, Richard W. Schwartz, Henry C. Vásconez, Margaret Plymale, Daniel E. Kenady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Head and neck surgery is an important part of general surgery. There is, however, little information about the quality of residents' clinical skills in this important field. In an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), residents encounter multiple patients with various clinical problems and are rated by faculty members using objective criteria. This study was undertaken to assess the head and neck surgery skills of a group of general surgical residents. Fifty-one general surgery residents examined the same nine patients with head and neck disease. Faculty members graded each clinical interaction according to preset objective criteria. Both actual (e.g., thyroid nodule, oral cancer follow-up examination) and simulated (e.g., dysphagia) patients were used in the OSCE. The reliability of the examination was assessed by coefficient α. The construct validity was determined by a two-way analysis of variance with one repeated measure. The reliability was 0.75 for the clinical examination. Performance varied by level of training: Residents performed at a higher level than interns (p < 0.0001), but overall scores were poor (mean score 55%). Important deficits in skills were identified at all levels of training. It is concluded that more attention should be focused on specific outcome assessments of surgical training programs and on strategies for upgrading the clinical skills of surgical residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-235
Number of pages7
JournalWorld Journal of Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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