Objectives A prospective cohort study was conducted using hand motion analysis (HMA) to assess the acquisition and retention of technical proficiency among first-year medical students learning the lumbar puncture (LP) skill in a simulated setting. Methods Twenty-five subjects attended three or four simulation sessions at 6-week intervals. The initial session consisted of an introduction to the procedure and a baseline HMA assessment. This was followed by a session involving deliberate practice and evaluation using HMA. Subject HMA metrics were followed over time and compared to performance benchmarks to determine the volume of practice required to achieve and maintain technical proficiency in the simulated setting. Performance benchmarks were derived from the assessment of experts using HMA. Results Subject baseline metrics were significantly different from expert (p <0.01). At the outset of session 2, none of the subjects achieved the performance benchmarks. At the outset of sessions 3 and 4, 40 and 60% of subjects, respectively, demonstrated retention of technical proficiency. However, there was evidence of significant skill erosion between sessions (p <0.01). The mean number of practice attempts required to achieve technical proficiency declined between sessions. Regression analysis indicated that there was a significant training effect for all students (overall negative slopes) over time. When examining the group as a whole, the speed at which students reached the expert benchmark was not significantly associated with number of practices in the first three sessions, although for some individuals these factors did appear associated. A total of 76% of subjects retained technical proficiency by session 4 and required a mean of 14 practices (range = 5 to 19). Conclusions These results show that the majority of students require three to four sessions of deliberate practice to achieve a sustainable level of proficiency in the LP procedure. There is considerable variation in learning progression and retention of technical proficiency. These results have important implications for the design and resource requirements of a competency-based medical education program targeting LP training.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine