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Operative Competency Evaluation Committee to develop tool for technical skills assessment

Dr. Patricia Roberts
Dr. Patricia Roberts

The Society’s Operative Competency Evaluation Committee has received Executive Council approval to develop and evaluate a method of technical skills assessment for colorectal fellows.

The new technical skills assessment tool, known as Colorectal Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skill (COSATS), will be developed and tested by a team at the University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, headed by Drs. Helen M. MacRae and Sandra de Montbrun. They will first develop a series of stations on which skills can be tested, using either models constructed from synthetic materials, animal tissue, cadaveric tissue, or simulators. Next, they will conduct a pilot study examining colorectal and general surgery trainees to assess the validity and reliability of the COSATS stations.

Participants in the pilot study will be asked to perform a series of surgical tasks while being directly observed by an expert colorectal surgeon, who will determine whether or not each procedure was performed correctly and rate them, using a global scale of operative performance on skills such as respect for tissue, instrument handling, knowledge of instruments, and flow of operation. They will also receive ratings on overall performance and quality of final product.

“With the increasing public pressure for high quality health care and the professional duty of self-regulation, it is imperative this type of objective assessment of surgical skills be incorporated into certification,” Operative Competency Committee Chair Dr. Patricia L. Roberts, Burlington, MA, says.

Until now, written and oral examinations and other tools have been used to assess a trainee’s cognitive knowledge, judgment, and professionalism. The COSATS will be the first test of its kind assessing subspecialty surgical skill. If implemented as a component of the ABCRS certification examination, it would also be the first test to be incorporated into subspecialty certification.

“There’s been no objective assessment of technical competence by a validated model,” says Dr. Roberts. “In effect, we’ve been able to evaluate how well a candidate has learned how to perform colorectal surgery, but we’ve not had an objective test of whether or not the candidate can actually perform in an operating room.”

In addition to Drs. Roberts and MacRae, members of the Operative Competency Evaluation Committee are Vice Chair Dr. Ann Lowry, St. Paul, MN, Advisor Dr. Richard Reznick, Kingston, ON, Canada, Council Rep Dr. Steven Wexner, Weston, FL, and Drs. Glenn Ault, Los Angeles, CA, Richard Billingham, Seattle, WA, Marcus Burnstein, Toronto, ON, Canada, Peter Cataldo, Burlington, VT, Eric Dozois, Rochester, MN, Gary Dunn, Oklahoma City, OK, James Fleshman, St. Louis, MO, Gerald Isenberg, Philadelphia, PA, Najjia Mahmoud, Philadelphia, PA, Peter Marcello, Burlington, MA, David Schoetz, Jr. (ex-officio), Burlington, MA, Michael Stamos, Orange, CA, Scott Strong, Cleveland, OH, Judith Trudel, St. Paul, MN, and Eric Weiss, Weston, FL.