Evaluation of distributed practice schedules on retention of a newly acquired surgical skill: A randomized trial

Erica L. Mitchell, Dae Y. Lee, Nick Sevdalis, Aaron W. Partsafas, Gregory J. Landry, Timothy K. Liem, Gregory L. Moneta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background Practice influences new skill acquisition. The aim of this study was to prospectively investigate the impact of practice distribution (weekly vs monthly) on complex motor skill (end-side vascular anastomosis) acquisition and 4-month retention. Methods Twenty-four surgical interns were randomly assigned to weekly training for 4 weeks or monthly training for 4 months, with equal total training times. Performance was assessed before training, immediately after training, after the completion of distributed training, and 4 months later. Results There was no statistical difference in surgical skill acquisition and retention between the weekly and monthly scheduled groups, as measured by procedural checklist scores, global rating scores of operative performance, final product analysis, and overall performance or assessment of operative "competence." Conclusions Distributed practice results in improvement and retention of a newly acquired surgical skill independent of weekly or monthly practice schedules. Flexibility in a surgical skills laboratory curriculum is possible without adversely affecting training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Distributed practice schedules
  • Motor skill acquisition
  • Motor skill retention
  • Operative competence
  • Practice distribution
  • Surgical skills laboratory curriculum
  • Vascular anastomosis
  • Vascular skills laboratory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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