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Steven O. Tenny, Kyle P. Schmidt and William E. Thorell


The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has pushed for more frequent and comprehensive feedback for residents during their training, but there is scant evidence for how neurosurgery residents view the current feedback system as it applies to providing information for self-improvement and goal formation. The authors sought to assess neurosurgery resident and staff perceptions of the current resident feedback system in providing specific, meaningful, achievable, realistic, and timely (SMART) goals. The authors then created a pilot project to improve the most unfavorably viewed aspect of the feedback system.


The authors conducted an anonymous survey of neurosurgery residents and staff at an academic medical institution to assess SMART goals for resident feedback and used the results to create a pilot intervention to address the most unfavorably viewed aspect of the feedback system. The authors then conducted a postintervention survey to see if perceptions had improved for the target of the intervention.


Neurosurgery residents and staff completed an anonymous online survey, for which the results indicated that resident feedback was not occurring in a timely manner. The authors created a simple anonymous feedback form. The form was distributed monthly to neurosurgery residents, neurosurgical staff, and nurses, and the results were reported monthly to each resident for 6 months. A postintervention survey was then administered, and the results indicated that the opinions of the neurosurgery residents and staff on the timeliness of resident feedback had changed from a negative to a nonnegative opinion (p = 0.01).


The required ACGME feedback methods may not be providing adequate feedback for goal formation for self-improvement for neurosurgery residents. Simple interventions, such as anonymous feedback questionnaires, can improve neurosurgery resident and staff perception of feedback to residents for self-improvement and goal formation.