Surgeons' Coaching Techniques in the Surgical Coaching for Operative Performance Enhancement (SCOPE) Program

Jason C. Pradarelli*, Steven Yule, Nikhil Panda, Kurt W. Lowery, Janaka Lagoo, Denise W. Gee, Stanley W. Ashley, Peter M. Waters, Atul A. Gawande, Douglas S. Smink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate coaching techniques used by practicing surgeons who underwent dedicated coach training in a peer surgical coaching program. Background: Surgical coaching is a developing strategy for improving surgeons' intraoperative performance. How to cultivate effective coaching skills among practicing surgeons is uncertain. Methods: 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. Results: 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." Conclusions: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E91-E98
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Continuous professional development
  • Intraoperative performance
  • Non-technical skills
  • Patient safety
  • Surgical coaching
  • Surgical quality improvement
  • Teaching skills
  • Technical skills


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