Annual Structured Communication Skills Training for Surgery Residents

Published:October 10, 2022DOI:



      There is no formalized communication curriculum for surgical training. The aim of this study is to determine the benefit of annual communication skill-building workshops for surgical residents over several years.


      The general surgery and the integrated cardiothoracic surgery residents in a tertiary care, urban academic center participated in a 2-hour communication skill-building workshop each year from July 2017 to June 2021. Each participant was administered an anonymous pre-session and post-session survey with a 5-point Likert scale to assess their self-reported preparedness and their evaluation of the workshop. Survey responses were divided into three groups based on their experience in this workshop; no experience (Experience 0), 1 y of experience (Experience 1), and two or more years of experience (Experience 2+). They were compared among groups.


      Seventy-one surgical residents participated in the workshop generating 124 survey results (Experience 0, 71 [57.3%], Experience 1, 41 [33.1%], and Experience 2+, 12 [9.7%]). Self-reported preparedness scores improved for the overall group as well as for each experience group. While scores decreased significantly in the following years, they improved after each workshop. Scores were significantly better with more experience (4, interquartile range [IQR] 3-4 in Experience 0, 4, IQR 3-5 in Experience 1, 4, IQR 4-5 in Experience 2+, P < 0.001 between Experience 0 and Experience 1, P = 0.041 between Experience 1 and Experience 2+). All residents reported an overwhelmingly positive review of the curriculum.


      Yearly 2-hour communication skills practice increased surgical residents’ self-reported preparedness, and the repetition helped the improvement. Annual workshops are important for residents to be more prepared for serious illness communication.


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