Making It Stick: Keys to Effective Feedback and Debriefing in Surgical Education

  • John T. PaigeEmail author
Part of the Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation book series (CHS)


Although founded on evidence-based principles using established scientific frameworks and methods, the practice of surgery, in which the surgeon must combine both technical skills with medical knowledge, continues to a large degree rely on intuition, experience, and “feel,” the so-called art of healing. In much the same way, surgical training applies evidence-based educational principles with the “art of teaching.” Nowhere is this intangible aspect of education more important than in providing feedback to learners or facilitating debriefs after educational interventions. These moments are the points in time where learning occurs for the trainee/student. If done properly, it can transpire via a eureka-like epiphany, helping to embed the newfound information into the memory of the learner. Unfortunately, feedback and debriefing are often neglected subjects, especially in the field of simulation-based education and training where an inordinate amount of attention is placed on simulators, scenarios, and how to use them. This chapter will elucidate key practices and principles related to giving effective feedback and debriefing in surgical education. First, it will provide definitions for both terms and provide a theoretical framework related to their use. Next, it will attempt to identify key best practices for optimizing trainee/student learning using either technique. Finally, it will delineate several concrete examples of their use in current health educations training.


Debriefing Feedback Simulation-based training Experiential learning Faculty development 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryLSU Health New Orleans School of MedicineNew OrleansUSA

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