Open Access Open Badges Research article

Analysing the operative experience of basic surgical trainees in Ireland using a web-based logbook

Peter E Lonergan, Jurgen Mulsow, W Arthur Tanner, Oscar Traynor and Sean Tierney*

Author Affiliations

National Surgical Training Centre, Colles Institute, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 123 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland

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BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:70  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-70

Published: 25 September 2011



There is concern about the adequacy of operative exposure in surgical training programmes, in the context of changing work practices. We aimed to quantify the operative exposure of all trainees on the National Basic Surgical Training (BST) programme in Ireland and compare the results with arbitrary training targets.


Retrospective analysis of data obtained from a web-based logbook ( webcite) for all general surgery and orthopaedic training posts between July 2007 and June 2009.


104 trainees recorded 23,918 operations between two 6-month general surgery posts. The most common general surgery operation performed was simple skin excision with trainees performing an average of 19.7 (± 9.9) over the 2-year training programme. Trainees most frequently assisted with cholecystectomy with an average of 16.0 (± 11.0) per trainee. Comparison of trainee operative experience to arbitrary training targets found that 2-38% of trainees achieved the targets for 9 emergency index operations and 24-90% of trainees achieved the targets for 8 index elective operations. 72 trainees also completed a 6-month post in orthopaedics and recorded 7,551 operations. The most common orthopaedic operation that trainees performed was removal of metal, with an average of 2.90 (± 3.27) per trainee. The most common orthopaedic operation that trainees assisted with was total hip replacement, with an average of 10.46 (± 6.21) per trainee.


A centralised web-based logbook provides valuable data to analyse training programme performance. Analysis of logbooks raises concerns about operative experience at junior trainee level. The provision of adequate operative exposure for trainees should be a key performance indicator for training programmes.