Background: Manual skill proficiency is not currently employed in selecting residents for general surgery training programs. The study objective was to assess whether the technical skill levels of applicants to a general surgery residency program are higher than those of internal medicine residents. Material and Methods: Forty-two applicants to a community general surgery program underwent manual skill testing on interview day. Four laparoscopic tasks on a virtual reality (VR) simulator (LapSim, Goteborg, Sweden) were tested. Performance scores were computer-generated. Participants' previous experience with other manual dexterity activities was assessed via a questionnaire. Applicants' self-perception of their surgical skills was correlated with their skill dexterity scores on the simulator. Candidates' simulator scores were also compared with those of a group of internal medicine interns (n = 9) and a group of mid-level surgical residents, PGY 2-3 (n = 7). Results: Simulator scores of the applicants were significantly lower than those of mid-level surgical residents in all VR tasks (P < 0.05). The internal medicine interns scored higher that the surgery candidates in three of four simulator tasks. Participation in other manual dexterity activities was not associated with increased dexterity scores. Conclusion: This study suggests that surgical dexterity levels do not correlate with the self-assessed skill levels or with previous experience with other manual dexterity activities. Moreover, there appears to be no self-selection of applicants for surgery residency based on actual surgical skills. Selection criteria for surgical training, which incorporate technical proficiency skills, may potentially better discriminate those applicants with an aptitude for a surgical specialty.
- general surgery residency applicants
- surgical skill testing
- virtual reality
ASJC Scopus subject areas