Journal of Surgical Simulation 2020; 7: 1 - 7

Published: 08 July 2020


Original article

Conflicting intra-departmental views on the importance of simulation in general surgery

K. Brandon Lang, Todd F. Hoover, Marie Hunsinger and Mohsen Shabahang
Corresponding author: K. Brandon Lang, Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice, Bloomsburg University, 400 East Second Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815, USA. Email:


Background: Although the technology has improved over the years, simulation is not used as widely in general surgery resident education as it is in other medical specialties. The aim of this study was to examine what general surgery residents and general surgeons like and do not like about simulation-based education. 

Methods: Unstructured focus groups were conducted at a moderate-sized general surgery residency program involving three groups of residents (interns, mid-levels, and chiefs) and two groups of attending physicians (n = 27). In each of the groups, respondents were asked to articulate their views concerning the importance of simulation training. A qualitative analysis of the data was performed.

Results: The attending physicians perceive the value of the simulation lab to be less effective than the operating room in terms of teaching surgical skills. In general, they see being part of an actual surgery to be more beneficial than working in a simulated  environment. Conversely, the residents perceive simulation labs to be hands-on and educational, and as a low-stress environment to develop their surgical skills.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that faculty and residents have different views concerning the importance of surgical simulation. It also suggests that residents are in a bind. Many of them seek to be more involved in actual surgeries but feel that active learning in the simulation lab is more beneficial than passive learning in the operating room.


surgical simulation; residents; general surgery