Background: The Strategic Management Simulation (SMS) has been used extensively to test and train higher cognitive functions in persons who occupy professional and leadership positions (ie, skills like those needed by a surgeon). Methods: The SMS was used to predict surgical residents' competency in decision making. Skills required for integrative surgical decision making including critical thinking, crisis management, flexibility, factual knowledge, and team building were assessed. Surgical residents with at least 2 years of experience participated. In additional, attending faculty familiar with the residents' work evaluated each resident with a standard comprehensive rating scale. Simulation performance on multiple measures was compared with faculty ratings. Results: A number of measures obtained on simulation performance (eg, activity level, response speed, initiative, adequate usage of and appropriate search for relevant information) generated high correlations with comprehensive faculty assessment (eg, measures of crisis management, team interactions, flexibility of approach). Conclusion: The simulation technique is able to accurately assess performance of surgical residents (on a number of parameters) in a relatively brief time period. Simulation data were highly similar to faculty ratings that were based on at least 2 years of experience with the resident.
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