An Apprenticeship Rotation Teaches Chief Residents Nontechnical Skills and ACGME Core Competencies

Gifty Kwakye, Xiaodong Chen, Joaquim M. Havens, Jennifer L. Irani, Steven Yule, Douglas S. Smink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background Traditionally, surgical training has used an apprenticeship model but has more recently moved to a service-based model, with groups of residents working with groups of attending surgeons. We developed an apprenticeship rotation to enhance one-on-one interaction between chief residents and selected faculty. We hypothesized that the apprenticeship rotation would be effective for teaching nontechnical skills (NTS) and core competencies. Materials and Methods An apprenticeship rotation was created at a university-based surgery residency in which each chief resident selected a single attending surgeon with whom to work exclusively with for a 4-week period. Emphasis was placed on teaching intraoperative NTS as well as the 4 difficult-to-teach Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education core competencies (DCC): Interpersonal and Communication Skills, Practice-Based Learning and Improvement, Professionalism, and Systems-Based Practice. Participants were surveyed afterwards about their rotation using a 5-point Likert scale. A Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to compare differences depending on data distribution. Results All (13/13) the chief residents and 67% (8/12) faculty completed the survey. Overall, 85% of residents and 87.5% of faculty would recommend the rotation to other residents/faculty members. Both residents and faculty reported improvement in trainees' technical skills and NTS. Residents reported improvement in all 4 DCC, particularly, Practice-Based Learning and Improvement, Professionalism, and Interpersonal and Communication Skills. Conclusion The apprenticeship rotation is an effective means of teaching residents both NTS and DCC essential for independent practice. Consideration should be given to introducing this program into surgical curricula nationally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1095-1101
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Association of Program Directors in Surgery.


  • Key Words apprenticeship model
  • core competencies
  • nontechnical skills
  • surgical education
  • technical skills


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