Fostering and assessing professionalism and communication skills in neurosurgical education

Ricardo B.V. Fontes, Nathan R. Selden, Richard W. Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Introduction Incorporation of the 6 ACGME core competencies into surgical training has proven a considerable challenge particularly for the two primarily behavioral competencies, professionalism and interpersonal and communication skills. We report on experience with two specific interventions to foster the teaching and continuous evaluation of these competencies for neurosurgery residents.

Material and Methods In 2010, the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS) organized the first comprehensive Neurosurgery Boot Camp courses, held at six locations throughout the US and designed to assess and teach not only psychomotor skills but also components of all six Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) core competencies. These courses are comprised of various educational methodologies, including online material, faculty lectures, clinical scenario and group discussions, manual skills stations, and pre- and post-course assessments. Resident progress in each of the 6 ACGME competencies is now tracked using the neurosurgical Milestones, developed by the ACGME in collaboration with the SNS. In addition, the Milestones drafting group for neurosurgery has formulated a milestone-compatible evaluation system to directly populate Milestone reports. These evaluations utilize formative, summative, and 360-degree evaluations that are considered by a faculty core competency committee in finalizing milestones levels for each resident.

Results Initial attendance at the 2010 Boot Camp course was 94% of the incoming resident class and in subsequent years, 100%. Pre- and post-course surveys demonstrated a significant and sustained increase in knowledge. The value of these courses has been recognized by the ACGME, which requires Boot Camp or equivalent participation prior to acting with indirect supervision during clinical activities. Neurosurgery was one of 7 early Milestone adopter specialties, beginning use in July, 2013. Early milestone data will establish benchmarks prior to utilization for "high stake" decisions such as promotion, graduation, and termination.

Conclusions The full impact of the neurosurgical Boot Camps and Milestones on residency education remains to be measured, although published data from the first years of the Boot Camp Courses demonstrate broad acceptance and early effectiveness. A complementary junior resident course has now been introduced for rising second-year residents. The Milestones compatible evaluation system now provides for multi-source formative and summative evaluation of neurosurgical residents within the new ACGME reporting rubric. Combined with consensus milestone assignments, this system provides new specificity and objectivity to resident evaluations. The correlation of milestone level assignments with other measurements of educational outcome awaits further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e83-e89
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • assessment
  • edu-cational
  • graduate medical education
  • internship and residency
  • neurosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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