Flying aptitude tests for surgeons

Park, Hyunmi (2017) Flying aptitude tests for surgeons. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Aims: To test whether the Flying Aptitude Test, the Royal Air Force’s selection aptitude test, can be used for surgical skills testing by correlating it to both open and minimally invasive surgical simulated tests. The introduction of such test at the onset of post graduate training could offer guidance and encouragement on a career in surgery.

Methods: The Flying Aptitude Test used for the selection of British Military Pilots was undertaken by 243 medical participants. The aptitude domains tested included: Psychomotor, Verbal, Attentional, Spatial aptitudes & Short-Term Memory. Results were correlated with performance of open Basic Surgical Skills (BSS) and Laparoscopic Simulator (Lap Sim) skills in simulated environments. Medical students (n=211) encompassed 86.6% of those recruited and the remainder were doctors in training. Correlation analyses were carried out on the undergraduate participants only to maintain a completely uniform group of novices from both surgical and military aptitude experience. Data on demographics, use of computer games, self-rating scores and feedback form were also analysed.

Results: n= 243 (52.3% female). Mean age 24 years (range18-39). 230 participants undertook the computer based Flying Aptitude Test of which 199 were medical students with a mean score of 51.64% (16-96% SD=14.27). Total mean Lap Sim time was 737 seconds (259-2290sec SD=313). Twenty-six participated in the BSS with a mean score of 74% (16-97%, SD=23). There was statistically significant correlation between the Flying Aptitude Test and the Lap Sim data (undergraduates n=153 Pearson r=-0.275; p<0.001) with the highest correlation in the Psychomotor domain (r=-0.300; p<0.001). There was even greater correlation between the Flying Aptitude Test and BSS tests (undergraduates n=20 Spearman’s r=0.464, p=0.04) with the Spatial Reasoning aptitude having the highest correlation (r=0.540, p=0.014). Lap Sim & Flying Aptitude Test data correlation was greater in females but for the BSS data, the correlation was greater in male, but this difference between the genders was not statistically significant. Positive correlation was seen in the use of computer games and the Flying Aptitude Test, which was higher in males. There was a marked difference in the self-rating results between the genders, with female participants reporting an unfounded lower expectation of their own performance.

Conclusions: This study shows a statistically significant correlation between the validated Flying Aptitude Test scores in both open and laparoscopic simulation tests. This study has shown an equally good performance from female medical students compared to their male peers in the Flying Aptitude Test as well as the Laparoscopic and Basic Surgical Skills Tests in this study. A surgical aptitude test such as the Flying Aptitude Test could be potentially incorporated into early post graduate training to inspire graduates into a career in surgery. Such aptitude test may encourage self-actualisation and empowerment of female trainees into believing in their own potential technical ability and challenge the gender gap in the speciality.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Maxwell-Armstrong, Charles
Ferguson, Eamonn
Dennick, Reg
Keywords: Medical education; Surgical aptitude; Flying aptitude test; Surgical simulation
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WO Surgery
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 47575
Depositing User: Park, Hyunmi
Date Deposited: 01 May 2018 13:06
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 13:34

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