Is there a role for the use of aviation assessment instruments in surgical training preparation? A feasibility study

Aline C Stolk-Vos, Marion H Heres, Jasper Kesteloo, Dick Verburg, Frans Hiddema, Desiree A Lie, Dirk F de Korne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Selection for surgical residency programmes could potentially be improved through pretraining preparation, after assessment of surgical candidates' sensorimotor skills and personality traits. Existing aviation pilot selection instruments are available to test sensorimotor skills and personality traits. This study examined selected instruments to assess medical trainees' sensorimotor skills and personality traits.

METHODS: Aviation's validated computer-based Computerized Pilot Aptitude and Screening System (COMPASS) and Checklist Professional Profile (CPP) were applied to 166 final year medical students during a surgical clerkship between 2013 and 2015.

RESULTS: All trainees completed COMPASS and CPP within the prescribed 2 hours. Compared with an age-matched and gender-matched cohort of 165 pilot candidates, medical trainees scored significantly higher on eye-hand coordination (p<0.001), need for variation (p<0.001), empathy (p=0.006), helpfulness (p<0.001) and autonomy (p<0.001). Pilot candidates scored higher on eye-hand-foot coordination (p<0.001), spatial orientation (p<0.001), persuasiveness (p<0.001), stress tolerance (p<0.001), dominance (p<0.001), ambition (p<0.001) and resilience (p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Final year medical trainees from one medical school were able to complete aviation's sensorimotor skills and personality traits selection instruments within the set time frame. They scored differently from aviation trainees on selected skills and personality traits. The applicability and utility of aviation instruments to presurgical training preparation remains to be tested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-24
Number of pages5
JournalPostgraduate Medical Journal
Issue number1095
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aptitude
  • Aptitude Tests
  • Aviation
  • Clinical Clerkship
  • Clinical Competence
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • General Surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Personality
  • Pilots
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Resilience, Psychological
  • Spatial Navigation
  • Students, Medical
  • Young Adult


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