Making quality stick: Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety: Lifelong learning: A key responsibility of the individual surgeon

Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and SafetyEditor’s note: In July 2017, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) released Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety—a new manual that is intended to serve as a trusted resource for surgical leaders seeking to improve patient care in their institutions and make quality stick. Each month, the Bulletin highlights some of the salient points made throughout the “red book.”

Without lifelong education and training, there is no quality. The groundwork for developing the knowledge and capabilities needed to provide safe, reliable, quality care is set in medical school. In residency, trainees develop hands-on skills they will apply in practice while honing their theoretical and practical knowledge. Practicing surgeons learn with each new case, but also must continually seek out opportunities to learn new techniques and procedures.

Many tools are available to assist in applying the principles of adult learning to the education and training of residents and surgeons. Examples include morbidity and mortality conferences; simulation; video review; the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program® (ACS NSQIP®) Quality In-Training Initiative, which offers defined training in quality improvement for residents; journals; and so on.

The pursuit of lifelong learning and continuous professional development is the responsibility of each surgeon. The individual surgeon who is committed to quality should participate in Continuing Medical Education programs, evaluate performance in practice, and engage in self-assessment activities. Surgeons also are obligated to engage in quality improvement programs, such as ACS NSQIP and specialty programs that benchmark outcomes data; use tools designed to make surgical care more patient-centered, including the ACS NSQIP Risk Calculator, Strong for Surgery checklists, and patient-reported outcome measures; and reeducate and retool to maintain and advance their performance.

Be sure to read next month’s overview of the red book for insights into how disruptive behavior affects the patient care team and the value of mentoring and coaching. Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety is available for $44.95 per copy for orders of nine copies or fewer and $39.95 for orders of 10 or more copies through the ACS website.

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