Untitled Page

Accelerating the Pace of Surgical Skills Acquisition


For the first time in the history of the Department of Surgery, all PGY1 residents in the different Divisions of Surgery participated in the inaugural “Prep Camp” from July 2nd – 12th. While the concept of a preparatory camp for surgical trainees is not necessarily a new one, the Department of Surgery Prep Camp is unique in providing didactic lectures focused on the chief procedural skills required across all Divisions of Surgery, and handson training using state-of-the-art simulation models. In previous years, some Divisions such as Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery held their own “Boot Camps” for PGY1 residents. Thankfully, our Post-graduate Medical Education Committee led by Ron Levine as Director, and David Latter as Vice Chair of Education, strongly recommended the development of the Prep Camp to enable PGY1 residents to advance their skills in an expedited fashion within the Surgical Foundations course.

The Prep Camp was organized to provide entry level information and skills training to all PGY1 residents in important surgical areas including the principles of asepsis, knot tying, gowning and gloving, suturing techniques, establishment of surgical airways, chest tube insertion, arterial cut-downs, bladder catheterization, and basic endoscopic skills. At the end of the two week intensive course, all residents took part in an OSATS course for Proficiency Assessment.

All PGY1 surgical residents were on leave during the day from their clinical rotations to attend all aspects of the Prep Camp. Their typical daytime duties at the hospitals were managed by other residents, fellows, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and hospitalists on the various services.

prep camp

Needless to say, the orchestration of a resource-intense course of this magnitude requires tremendous planning and forethought. For this, I would especially like to thank Oleg Safir, Director, Surgical Skills Centre (SSC) at Mount Sinai Hospital, and Lisa Satterthwaite, Manager SSC, and all the staff at the SSC for providing a truly remarkable program and experience to the new residents entering the different surgical programs. All told, there were over 55 residents who participated in the program at the SSC.

An initiative such as the Prep Camp offers exciting new opportunities for us to perform primary research on how residents acquire and maintain procedural skills. To this end, Oleg and colleagues will be longitudinally tracking all the residents who have taken the Prep Camp Course to determine the imprint of what they learned during those two weeks in July on their abilities to perform these skills at a subsequent date.

As a surgeon who learned many procedural skills using a trial by fire method with patients in the 1980’s, as many of us did at that time, I strongly believe that the Department of Surgery Prep Camp is a marvelous example of harnessing the power of simulation and skills acquisition in an environment that will positively influence patient safety and quality of care. I am absolutely delighted that we can now offer this course to all new entry level residents in the Department of Surgery.

JT Rutka

Skip Navigation Links