Assessment of Competence in the Operating Theatre

My colleague, Alexandra Cope, went to the 15th Ottawa Conference to present a joint paper on the assessment of competence in the operating theatre.

Background: Assessment of competence in the operating theatre has not previously been defined. Assessment by a trainer of when a trainee becomes competent is through a process of inference from observing the trainee’s performance during other cases.This study sets out to define what domains are regarded to contribute to general operative competence.

Summary of work: Semi-structured interviews with 10 trainers and 12 trainees in UK hospitals. This was a purposeful sample including doctors from both teaching and district general hospitals. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed by a panel of author from different academic backgrounds.

Summary of results: We identified different types of competence required in the operating room – routine technical competence, adaptive competence, motor competence and social competence.

Conclusions: Assessing competence in the operating room environment is complex and requires assessment across several domains to ensure that decisions about whether a trainee is ready to ‘go solo’ are robust. There is a requirement to be able to cope with the unexpected, complications and patient variability as well as routine tasks.

Take-home messages: A taxonomy of curricular items required for competence has been created and should be considered by trainers when assessing whether a trainee is ready to ‘go solo’.

Alexandra Cope, Stella Mavroveli, Jeff Bezemer, George Hanna and Roger Kneebone (2012). Assessment of Competence in the Operating Theatre. Paper presented at the 15th Ottawa Conference, Kuala Lumpur, 11th March 2012.

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