Findings from research on how surgeons interact are being used to improve surgical training, and implemented In 'Training the trainers' surgical courses.


  • Insights from the project are now being used to train new consultants on how to supervise operating trainees whilst ensuring safety.
  • The research is also being implemented in 'Training the Trainers' surgical courses, such as the Surgical Education MA degree programme at Imperial College London.
  • The 'good training practices' identified by the research are currently being disseminated and adopted by the surgeons who took part in the project at their respective hospitals.

"This research has made visible how experienced consultants teach surgical procedures in the operating theatre. Having their strategies and the challenges they encounter described in such detail has given me important new insights and ideas for further developing my own teaching skills." (Alexandra Cope, Specialist Registrar)

About the research

Digital technologies have transformed the ways in which surgeons operate. Many operations today are done by keyhole surgery, using a tiny camera to look inside the body. Operating theatres are also often equipped with a range of different recording devices, including wide angle cameras and microphones.

The ESRC-funded MODE project (Multimodal Methodologies for Researching Digital Data and Environments) takes advantage of these video resources to study how surgeons communicate with trainees when teaching them how to operate, as well as how they make and communicate decisions. MODE is part of the National Centre for Research Methods and based at the Institute of Education, London.

The study focused on digital technologies in the operating theatre and its potential for improving clinical care and training, asking questions such as:

  • How do surgical trainees learn to operate on real patients without exposing them to risk?
  • How do surgeons make critical decisions during operations?
  • How have new technologies changed learning and decision-making amongst surgeons?