SGS Papers| Volume 225, ISSUE 5, P558.e1-558.e11, November 2021

The Fundamentals of Vaginal Surgery pilot study: developing, validating, and setting proficiency scores for a vaginal surgical skills simulation system

Published:August 28, 2021DOI:


      Surgical training in the simulation lab can develop basic skills that translate to the operating room. Standardized, basic skills programs that are supported by validated assessment measures exist for open, laparoscopic, and endoscopic surgery; however, there is yet to be a nationally recognized and widely implemented basic skills program specifically for vaginal surgery.


      Develop a vaginal surgical simulation system; evaluate robust validity evidence for the simulation system and its related performance measures; and establish a proficiency score that discriminates between novice and experienced vaginal surgeon performance.

      Study Design

      In this 3-phased study, we developed the Fundamentals of Vaginal Surgery simulation system consisting of (1) the Fundamentals of Vaginal Surgery Trainer, a task trainer; (2) a validated regimen of tasks to be performed on the trainer; and (3) performance measures to determine proficiency. In Phase I, we developed the task trainer and selected surgical tasks by performing a needs assessment and hierarchical task analyses, with review and consensus from an expert panel. In Phase II, we conducted a national survey of vaginal surgeons to collect validity evidence regarding test content, response process, and internal structure relevant to the simulation system. In Phase III, we compared performance of novice (first and second year residents) and experienced (third and fourth year residents, fellows, and faculty) surgeons on the simulation system to evaluate relevant relationships to other variables and consequences. Performance measures were analyzed to set a proficiency score that would discriminate between novice and expert (faculty) vaginal surgical performance.


      A novel task trainer and 6 basic vaginal surgical skills were developed in Phase I. In Phase II, the survey responses of 48 participants (27 faculty surgeons, 6 fellows, and 14 residents) were evaluated on the dimensions of test content, response process, and internal structure. To support evidence of test content, the participants deemed the task trainer and surgical tasks representative of intended surgical field and supportive of typical surgical actions (mean scores, 3.8–4.4/5). For response process, rater-data analysis revealed high rating variability regarding prototype color. This early evidence confirmed the value of a white prototype. For internal structure, there was high agreement among rater groups (obstetricians and gynecologists generalists vs Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery specialists: interclass correlation coefficient range, 0.59–0.91; learners vs faculty interclass correlation coefficient range, 0.64–1.0). There were no differences in ratings across institution type, surgeon volume, expertise (P>.14). In Phase III, we analyzed performance from 23 participants (15 [65%] obstetricians and gynecologists residents, 3 [13%] fellows, and 5 [22%] Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery faculty). Experienced surgeons scored significantly higher than novice surgeons (median, 467.5; interquartile range, [402.5–542.5] vs median, 261.5; interquartile range, [211.5–351.0]; P<.001). Based on these data, setting a proficiency score threshold at 400 results in 0% (0/6) novices attaining the score, with 100% (5/5) experts exceeding it.


      We present validity evidence relevant to all 5 sources which supports the use of this novel simulation system for basic vaginal surgical skills. To complement the system, a proficiency score of 400 was established to discriminate between novices and experts.

      Key words

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