Mastery Learning of Surgical Skills

  • Ezra N. TeitelbaumEmail author
  • Katherine A. Barsness
  • Eric S. Hungness
Part of the Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation book series (CHS)


Simulation-based mastery learning (SBML) is a powerful tool for teaching both technical and cognitive skills. In medical education, SBML has been used effectively to teach a number of procedural skills. Simulator-based practice can act synergistically with traditional clinical education to produce trainees who are better prepared to perform procedures and care for patients safely and effectively. Using SBML to teach surgical skills is a natural extension of traditional educational models. However, several complexities basic to learning surgical operations make using the SBML model a difficult proposition. Operations have multiple steps, each requiring a deep understanding of anatomy, technical maneuvers, surgical instruments, and potential complications. In addition to technical skills, the surgeon must be competent in the preoperative evaluation and preparation of the patient and have a good grasp of intraoperative decision-making. Incorporating all of the necessary knowledge and skills into a surgical SBML curriculum poses a challenge. This chapter describes the methods used to apply SBML principles to several curricula developed to teach surgical skills and entire operations. The educational and clinical impact of these curricula and potential applications of SBML in future surgical education are discussed.


Mastery learning Surgical education Simulation-based training Resident education Competency-based training Surgical skills training Procedural learning 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ezra N. Teitelbaum
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katherine A. Barsness
    • 2
  • Eric S. Hungness
    • 2
  1. 1.Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of SurgeryChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Departments of Surgery and Medical EducationChicagoUSA

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