Journal of Surgical Simulation 2021; 8: 84 - 88

Published: 11 February 2022


Original article

Delivering a socially distanced boot camp for core surgical trainees during the COVID-19 pandemic: how we did it

Christine Blane, Louise Merker, Jonathan Mutimer, James Coulston and Richard Bamford
Corresponding author: Christine Blane, Musgrove Park Hospital, Parkfield Drive, Taunton, TA1 5DA, UK. Email:


Background: Boot camps are an important way to ensure trainees have the necessary skills and confidence as they commence a new stage of training. They are an established part of many post-graduate training programmes. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant disruption in post-graduate training, making boot camps an even more important intervention.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study used anonymous feedback surveys to evaluate the acceptability of a new blended, socially distanced format of boot camp to trainees starting core surgical training in August 2020. Formal ethical approval was not required for this study.

Results: All 27 new trainees in HEESW Severn School of Surgery attended the boot camp; over 80% participated in all three feedback surveys (22 [81%] completed the feedback for day 1, 23 [85%] for day 2 and 26 [96%] for day 3). Overall feedback was positive; compared with 2019, there was no significant difference in reported readiness to perform as a core trainee, understanding of the role or the benefit gained from meeting other trainees. When asked which boot camp format the trainees preferred, they favoured all attending in one location (4.65) over the current “hub” format (3.74), which was in turn preferable to attending virtually from home (2.39). (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Although trainees expressed a preference for the previous model in which their entire cohort attended the boot camp together, the blended format was acceptable to trainees and allowed us to provide a boot camp while following social distancing requirements.


surgical training; boot camp; blended learning; technology enhanced learning; surgical simulation; COVID-19