Skills coaches as part of the educational team: A randomized controlled trial of teaching of a basic surgical skill in the laboratory setting

Michael J. Kim, Margaret L. Boehler, Janet K. Ketchum, Reuben Bueno, Reed G. Williams, Gary L. Dunnington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of this study was to compare the laboratory teaching of a basic technical skill by a nonphysician skills coach and a faculty surgeon. Methods: Medical students were randomized to instruction of skin suturing in the skills laboratory by a faculty surgeon or by a nonphysician skills coach. Testing of performance occurred at 3 time points. Other faculty surgeons, blinded to identities and training groups, rated performance. Results: Forty-nine students participated. Baseline fourth-year student mean scores showed no significant difference between training groups. Third-year and fourth-year student performance showed no difference between training groups on postintervention testing. Delayed testing also showed no difference in third-year student scores. Conclusions: Training by either a nonsurgeon skills coach or a faculty surgeon resulted in no difference in performance on a basic surgical skill. This was true for students with and without prior experience and was also true after subsequent clinical experiences. Nonphysician coaches may ease the teaching burden of surgical faculty members while providing similar quality of instruction for trainees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-98
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010



  • Instruction
  • Resident training
  • Skills coach
  • Skills laboratory
  • Technical skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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