Nontechnical skills training in cardiothoracic surgery: A pilot study.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery


washington; seattle; swedish


OBJECTIVE: The importance of nontechnical skills in surgery is widely recognized. We demonstrate the feasibility of administering and assessing the results of a formal Non-Technical Skills in Surgery (NOTSS) curriculum to cardiothoracic surgery residents.

METHODS: Eight cardiothoracic surgery residents participated in the NOTSS curriculum. They were assessed on their cognitive (situation awareness, decision-making) and social (communication and teamwork, leadership) skills based on simulated vignettes. The residents underwent pretraining NOTSS assessments followed by self-administered confidence ratings regarding the 4 skills. Subsequently, a formal NOTSS lecture was delivered and additional readings from the NOTSS textbook was assigned. A month later, the residents returned for post-training NOTSS assessments and self-administered confidence ratings. Changes across days (or within-day before vs after curriculum) were assessed using Wilcoxon signed rank test.

RESULTS: There was a significant improvement in the overall NOTSS assessment score (P = .01) as well as in the individual categories (situation awareness, P = .02; decision-making, P = .02; communication and teamwork, P = .01; leadership, P = .02). There was also an increase in resident self-perception of improvement on the post-training day (P = .01).

CONCLUSIONS: We have developed a simulation-based NOTSS curriculum in cardiothoracic surgery that can be formally integrated into the current residency education. This pilot study indicates the feasibility of reproducible assessments by course educators and self-assessments by participating residents in nontechnical skills competencies.

Clinical Institute

Cardiovascular (Heart)