To evaluate coaching techniques used by practicing surgeons who underwent dedicated coach training in a peer surgical coaching program.
Surgical coaching is a developing strategy for improving surgeons’ intraoperative performance. How to cultivate effective coaching skills among practicing surgeons is uncertain.
Through the Surgical Coaching for Operative Performance Enhancement (SCOPE) program, 46 surgeons within 4 US academic medical centers were assigned 1:1 into coach/coachee pairs. All attended a 3-hour Surgical Coaching Workshop—developed using evidence from the fields of surgery and education—then received weekly reminders. We analyzed workshop evaluations and audio transcripts of postoperative debriefs between coach/coachee pairs, co-coding themes based on established principles of effective coaching: (i) self-identified goals, (ii) collaborative analysis, (iii) constructive feedback, and (iv) action planning. Coaching principles were cross-referenced with intraoperative performance topics: technical, nontechnical, and teaching skills.
For the 8 postoperative debriefs analyzed, mean duration was 24.4 min (range 7–47 minutes). Overall, 326 coaching examples were identified, demonstrating application of all 4 core principles of coaching. Constructive feedback (17.6 examples per debrief) and collaborative analysis (16.3) were utilized more frequently than goal-setting (3.9) and action planning (3.0). Debriefs focused more often on nontechnical skills (60%) than technical skills (32%) or teaching-specific skills (8%). Among surgeons who completed the workshop evaluation (82% completion rate), 90% rated the Surgical Coaching Workshop “good” or “excellent.”
Short-course coach trainings can help practicing surgeons use effective coaching techniques to guide their peers’ performance improvement in a way that aligns with surgical culture.