Background and Purpose: An objective evaluation of innate ability and its ability to predict potential success as a surgical trainee is an appealing concept for the selection process of residency applications. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether basic elements of performance (BEP) could discriminate among resident applicants and urologists with various extents of surgical experience. Subjects and Methods: One hundred forty-five participants were divided into four study groups: group A, 57 urology residency applicants to the 2002 and 2003 interview process; group B, 8 post-internship urology residents; group C, 19 urologists tested with BEP within 10 years of graduation from their residency training program; and group D, 61 urologists who had graduated from their residency training program more than 10 years prior to testing. The BEP measures consisted of 13 basic performance resources (BPR) including visual-information processing speed, visual-spatial immediate-recall capacity, and neuromotor channel capacity. Results: The four study groups differed significantly in their mean age: group A = 27.6 years, group B = 29.1 years, group C = 37.1 years, and group D = 48.9 years (P < 0.0005). There was essentially no significant difference between the groups with regard to immediate-recall memory, reaction time simple, or reaction time complicated. The younger participants (groups A and B) were faster than the older surgeons (groups C and D) (P < 0.02). However, the older surgeons (groups C and D) were significantly more accurate than the younger groups (A and B) (P < 0.0005). The only sex differences noted were in hand-grip strength and shoulder-strength scores, which were all higher in the men. Conclusions: There generally appears to be a lack of direct correlation between innate abilities and surgical experience. Urology resident applicants with no surgical experience and urology residents with limited surgical experience are faster but less accurate in innate skills testing than experienced practicing urologists.
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