It’s been a while since I posted anything on this blog, a longer while since I posted anything that wasn’t just a link to something else here, and an even while since I posted anything all that medical education related.
Anyone who has learnt a musical instrument knows that countless hours of practice are needed to achieve success. As a musician who has performed as an individual and as part of a group, I have spent many hours practicing before competitions and performances. It becomes apparent that how one practices is a skill in itself and the type or quality of practice is often more important than the quantity of practice. Ericsson formally described this phenomenon as deliberate practice after studying violinists in a music academy in Berlin. Rather than monotonous repetition of a skill or task, deliberate practice involves breaking the task up into chunks, identifying which ones need improvement, and performing focused practice on this chunk or task until a goal is achieved.
As a surgical educator, I can also see a role for deliberate practice in surgical training. As in music, complex tasks (e.g. percutaneous screw placement in fracture surgery) can be broken up into basic steps or “chunks,” such as image intensifier positioning, appropriate screw entry point identification, and trajectory planning. Trainees can then practice the steps they are deficient in under supervision. Here trainers provide critical feedback by identifying the troublesome parts of a technique that an individual trainee is struggling with. Simulation in particular can provide a safe environment for deliberate practice where trainees can practice tasks repeatedly without risk to patients.
Read the whole thing, as they say.