Creating a Proficiency-based Remote Laparoscopic Skills Curriculum for the COVID-19 Era

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 challenged our ability to educate incoming surgery interns who depend on early simulation training for basic skill acquisition. This study aimed to create a proficiency-based laparoscopic skills curriculum using remote learning. DESIGN: Content experts designed 5 surgical tasks to address hand-eye coordination, depth perception, and precision cutting. A scoring formula was used to measure performance: cutoff time - completion time - (K × errors) = score; the constant K was determined for each task. As a benchmark for proficiency, a fellowship-trained laparoscopic surgeon performed 3 consecutive repetitions of each task; proficiency was defined as the surgeon's mean score minus 2 standard deviations. To train remotely, PGY1 surgery residents (n = 29) were each issued a donated portable laparoscopic training box, task explanations, and score sheets. Remote training included submitting a pre-test video, self-training to proficiency, and submitting a post-test video. Construct validity (expert vs. trainee pre-tests) and skill acquisition (trainee pre-tests vs. post-tests) were compared using a Wilcoxon test (median [IQR] reported). SETTING: The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas PARTICIPANTS: Surgery interns RESULTS: Expert and trainee pre-test performance was significantly different for all tasks, supporting construct validity. One trainee was proficient at pre-test. After 1 month of self-training, 7 additional residents achieved proficiency on all 5 tasks after 2-18 repetitions; trainee post-test scores were significantly improved versus pre-test on all tasks (p = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: This proficiency-based curriculum demonstrated construct validity, was feasible as a remote teaching option, and resulted in significant skill acquisition. The remote format, including video-based performance assessment, facilitates effective at-home learning and may allow additional innovations such as video-based coaching for more advanced curricula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-236
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • COVID-19. Abbreviations : TC
  • Laparoscopic curriculum
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
  • at-home simulation training
  • remote training
  • time to task completion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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