Date of Award

Winter 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Mark W. Scerbo

Committee Member

James P. Bliss

Committee Member

Kathryn A. Mendoza

Committee Member

Robert M. McIntyre

Committee Member

Leonard J. Weireter


Currently, a thorough description of the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other personal characteristics (KSAOs) that distinguish an exceptional surgeon does not exist. This knowledge is pertinent to the development of selection, training, and performance assessment methods that can be used to develop high performing surgeons. Expert surgeons from around the country were recruited to participate in an interview to discuss the KSAOs (i.e., the competencies) needed to be exceptional in the field. A smaller number of novice surgeons were also interviewed. The expert interview data were distilled into a competency model that consists of ten competencies and patterns within the data that distinguished between the expert and novice results were examined. Results revealed ten competencies essential for distinguishing between outstanding and typical and surgeons: Dedication to Patient Care, Integrity, Tireless Work Ethic, Preparedness, Intellectual Giftedness and Curiosity, Humility, Compassion, Devotion to Field, Rapid Decision Making, and Passion for Teaching. These results suggest that surgical training would benefit from focusing on the development and enhancement of character-based competencies. Once validated, Industrial-Organizational psychologists can use the present model to assist surgeons in creating instruments that measure and track residents' acquisition of these competencies.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).