A national qualitative study of surgical coaching: Opportunities and barriers for colorectal surgeons

Published:April 27, 2022DOI:



      Surgical coaching interventions have been recommended as a method of technological skills improvement for individual surgeons and lifelong occupational learning. Patient outcomes for laparoscopic colectomy vary significantly based on surgeon experience and case volume. As surgical coaching is an emerging area, little is known about how surgeons view coaching interventions.


      Semistructured interviews with 68 colorectal surgeons from across the country who were e-mail recruited from the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons focused on exploring the attitudes surrounding surgical coaching programs among colorectal surgeons. Interviews were performed via telephone, audio-recorded, and transcribed verbatim with redaction of identifying information. Interviews were analyzed by iterative steps informed by thematic analysis.


      Surgeons reported the desire to participate in coaching programs to improve patient outcomes through technical skill advancement, to keep pace with surgical innovation, and to fulfill a desire for lifelong learning. However, surgeons varied in their beliefs over who should be coached, who should coach, the format of coaching, and the topics addressed in coaching. Obstacles identified included time, financial and medicolegal concerns, balance with resident education, and vulnerability.


      Widespread enthusiasm for surgical coaching programs exists among colorectal surgeons. However, there is variability in what surgeons believe an ideal surgical coaching program would look like. Therefore, in alignment with adult learning theory, we recommend the creation of several different models of surgical coaching to allow each surgeon to benefit from this advancement in continuous professional development.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Surgery
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Greenberg C.C.
        • Ghousseini H.N.
        • Quamme S.R.P.
        • Beasley H.L.
        • Wiegmann D.A.
        Surgical coaching for individual performance improvement.
        Ann Surg. 2015; 261: 32-34
        • Greenberg C.C.
        • Dombrowski J.
        • Dimick J.B.
        Video-based surgical coaching an emerging approach to performance improvement.
        JAMA Surg. 2016; 151: 282-283
        • Schlick C.J.R.
        • Bilimoria K.Y.
        • Stulberg J.J.
        Video-based feedback for the improvement of surgical technique: a platform for remote review and improvement of surgical technique.
        JAMA Surg. 2020; 155: 1078-1079
        • Min H.
        • Morales D.R.
        • Orgill D.
        • Smink D.S.
        • Yule S.
        Systematic review of coaching to enhance surgeons’ operative performance.
        Surgery. 2015; 158: 1168-1191
        • Mutabdzic D.
        • Mylopoulos M.
        • Murnaghan M.L.
        • et al.
        Coaching surgeons: is culture limiting our ability to improve?.
        Ann Surg. 2015; 262: 213-216
        • Byrnes M.E.
        • Engler T.A.
        • Greenberg C.C.
        • Fry B.T.
        • Dombrowski J.
        • Dimick J.B.
        Coaching as a mechanism to challenge surgical professional identities.
        Ann. Surg. 2021; 274: 319-323
        • Juo Y.Y.
        • Hyder O.
        • Haider A.H.
        • Camp M.
        • Lidor A.
        • Ahuja N.
        Is minimally invasive colon resection better than traditional approaches? First comprehensive national examination with propensity score matching.
        JAMA Surg. 2014; 149: 177-184
        • Sheetz K.H.
        • Norton E.C.
        • Birkmeyer J.D.
        • Dimick J.B.
        Provider experience and the comparative safety of laparoscopic and open colectomy.
        Health Serv Res. 2017; 52: 56-73
        • Healy M.A.
        • Regenbogen S.E.
        • Kanters A.E.
        • et al.
        Surgeon variation in complications with minimally invasive and open colectomy: results from the Michigan surgical quality collaborative.
        JAMA Surg. 2017; 152: 860-867
        • Clarke V.
        • Braun V.
        Thematic analysis.
        J Posit Psychol. 2017; 12: 297-298
        • Skochelak S.E.
        • Stack S.J.
        Creating the medical schools of the future.
        Acad Med. 2017; 92: 16-19
        • ASCRS
        Video mentorship series.