Purpose Providing resident autonomy in the operating room (OR) is one of the major challenges for surgical educators today. The purpose of this study was to explore what approaches expert surgical teachers use to assess residents’ readiness for autonomy in the OR. We particularly focused on the assessments that experts make prior to conducting the surgical time-out. Methods We conducted semistructured in-depth interviews with expert surgical teachers from March 2016 to September 2016. Purposeful sampling and snowball sampling were applied to identify and recruit expert surgical teachers from general surgery residency programs across the United States to represent a range of clinical subspecialties. All interviews were audio-recorded, deidentified, and transcribed. We applied the Framework Method of content analysis, discussed and reached final consensus on the themes. Results We interviewed 15 expert teachers from 9 institutions. The majority (13/15) were Program or Associate Program Directors; 47% (7/15) primarily performed complex surgical operations (e.g., endocrine surgery). Five themes regarding how expert surgical teachers determine residents’ readiness for OR autonomy before the surgical time-out emerged. These included 3 domains of evidence elicited about the resident (resident characteristics, medical knowledge, and beyond the current OR case), 1 variable relating to attending characteristics, and 1 variable composed of contextual factors. Experts obtained one or more examples of evidence, and adjusted residents’ initial autonomy using factors from the attending variable and the context variable. Conclusions Expert surgical teachers’ assessments of residents’ readiness for OR autonomy included 5 key components. Better understanding these inputs can contribute to both faculty and resident development, enabling increased resident autonomy and preparation for independent practice.
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills
- Medical Knowledge
- Patient Care
- Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
- faculty development
- operating room (OR) teaching