Educational programmes, designed to meet the training needs of General Practitioners (GPs) performing minor surgical procedures, have previously been shown to increase their surgical workload. The change in the level of competence following these programmes has not been assessed. The aims of this study were two-fold: to evaluate the vertical mattress suture for construct validity and to assess the impact of plastic surgery training on the surgical skill of GPs. Thirty non-consultant hospital doctors and 27 self-selected GPs were included. Using a modified objective structured assessment of technical skills (OSATS) scoring system, construct validity of the vertical mattress suture was confirmed. The median total OSATS score was 16 points (26.7%) in the novice group (medical registrars), 38.5 points (64.2%) in the intermediate group (surgical SHOs) and 59 points (98.3%) in the expert group (surgical registrars, p<0.001, Kruskal-Wallis test). Objective assessment in the GP group immediately following practical instruction revealed a median overall improvement of 31.7% (19 points) in total OSATS scores (p<0.001, Friedman non-parametric test, F). At six months follow-up all course participants had improved compared to their baseline. A median overall improvement of 13 points (21.7%) was noted (p<0.001, F). However, the majority (80%, n=20) had deteriorated from the standard set immediately after the course with a median overall reduction in total OSATS scores of six points (10%, p=0.001, F). Plastic surgery training is immediately efficacious in improving the technical proficiency of GPs. Through objective assessment of a standardised suture task we demonstrated a low rate of educational decay of 10% over a six-month period.
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland ->