Objective: The Royal College of Surgeons’ (RCS) three days Basic Surgical Skills (BSS) course focuses on teaching surgical trainees safe techniques in a controlled workshop environment early in their career. The course was introduced in Norway in 2009 and is so far voluntary in the Norwegian surgical training program. Our objectives were to evaluate if the participants improved their surgical skills after completing the course. We also wanted to investigate whether the improvement was dependent on the participants’ previous surgical experience.
Methods: Fifty-seven participants were included in the study. We used objective structured assessment of technical skills (OSATS) to assess the participants’ performance on two bench model stations from the BSS curriculum before and after completion of the course. In addition the participants were tested on a low-fidelity boxtrainer. For the laparoscopic test, time and numbers of hurdles passed were registered. All the participants completed a self-assessment form on surgical skills before and after the course.
Results: Mean total score for all the participants on the OSATS were significantly improved after completing the course (p < 0,001), without correlation to the participants’ previous length (p from 0,166 to 0,549) and type (p from 0,150 to 0,965) of surgical training. They also completed the laparoscopic test significantly faster after training (p < 0,001) The results from the self-assessment forms showed that most participants felt more competent in the surgical skills trained and taught in the course.
Conclusion: Our study indicates that the BSS course is beneficial for Norwegian surgical trainees with up to three years of training. Previous studies have shown that technical skills acquired on simulators are transferable to the operating theater (OR), and that skills courses improve performance in the OR compared to educational programs without practical skills training.