22 May

Help Rename The PLSC

Posted by: Brian George
in Blog
Views: 468

We are a quality improvement collaborative. Much of our collective work has been focused on implementing SIMPL. SIMPL was the core of our initial work because “one cannot improve at scale what one cannot measure”1, and if you want to improve surgery you need an operative performance assessment. Now that SIMPL has been widely implemented we are ready to use SIMPL data as an outcome measure for other, larger improvement efforts. In other words, we are now ready to more fully become the quality improvement collaborative we envisioned in the very beginning.

As we embark on that shared work it has become clear that our current name—the Procedural Learning and Safety Collaborative—needs to be updated. We must have a name that better communicates our values and our vision. To that end, we have opened a “Rename PLSC Competition”. We provide here the rules and other information to help you develop a winning name.

Competition Requirements

The winning name must:

  1. Be easy to remember
  2. If more than 2 words, have an acronym that is pronounceable as a word itself
  3. Be broadly applicable to all of medical education, not just surgical training

Other criteria that would be nice but are not required are that the name:

  1. Captures the collaborative nature of our work


Please email your ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before midnight on June 7th, 2020. The Procedural Learning and Safety Collaborative Steering Committee will judge the responses and pick a winner. It will be announced on our website and via email. The winner will receive a small token of our appreciation (PLSC swag and a $100 Amazon gift certificate).

Additional Information

Our Vision

Every physician who cares for a patient is competent.

Tag line

“Improving the quality of medical care by improving the quality of physician training”

Elevator pitch

Procedural Learning and Safety Collaborative (PLSC) is a non-profit educational quality improvement consortium focused on investigating and developing tools, curriculum, and policy to improve the training of physicians.  


In our work, we are guided by the following principles:

  1. Our actions must advance our mission to improve the quality of surgical care by improving the quality of surgical education
  2. High-quality evidence should inform our actions; where it is lacking, we should help develop it
  3. We help develop evidence through our own cutting-edge research and by sharing our data and expertise
  4. Our work must respect the limited time and resources available to faculty, trainees, and program administrators
  5. The organization and our work must be managed responsibly so that it can be sustained for future surgeon

    1. Bryk AS, Gomez LM, Grunow A, LeMahieu PG. Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better. Harvard Education Press; 2015.

Daniel Kendrick, MD, MAEd, Michigan Medicine Department of Surgery Center for Surgical Training and Research Research Fellow

With the growing concern regarding the readiness of graduates in general surgery to enter into independent practice, it is imperative that we accurately assess the progression of resident competence throughout the training process. At the same time, we must do so in a way that minimizes measurement burden on both faculty and trainees.

Surprisingly, it is currently unknown how surgical training programs determine competence and how much individual programs have in common. There are some measures of resident performance that are consistent across all programs including the ABSITE exam, ACGME case logging, and Milestone ratings, but programs use many other assessments that have been developed locally.  This presents a problem in both understanding the results of these tools as well as validating and improving them.

Ideally, all training programs would have a standardized set of assessment tools that, together, accurately predict the eventual clinical performance of a trainee and allow for targeted intervention prior to graduation. In order to realize this goal, we must do several things.  First, we must define what performance domains are important to assess during general surgery residents, (i.e. what defines the performance of a competent practicing general surgeon). Next, we must understand what different training programs are doing in order to design a toolkit that is optimal for their diverse needs/resources. Last, we must validate these tools’ ability to subsequently predict early career clinical performance of graduating residents. 

Much effort has gone into determining important performance domains in general surgery through the development of the ACGME General Surgery Milestones.  Through their application, the Milestones guide training programs to develop methods to measure and report trainee competence in each of sixteen important areas of performance.  It follows that many programs, working in parallel, have arrived at distinct local evaluation processes, and the next step is to understand what these different methods are.  Before an effective standardized toolkit can be built, we must assess what tools/strategies are currently being used by training programs to measure resident performance and how they fit within each of these domains.

In order to address this, we plan to conduct a survey-based assessment inventory of the evaluation process at all sites participating in the Variability In Trainee Autonomy and Learning in Surgery (VITALS) trial. We will synthesize these into a comprehensive picture of how training programs in general surgery are currently measuring trainee performance. This will identify gaps in our current assessment process with the eventual goal to build and validate a standardized assessment toolkit to be shared across all training programs. 


Please email Dr. Kendrick for more information at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

05 Apr

Join the PLSC for Upcoming Town Halls

Posted by: Brian George
in Blog
Views: 3537

The PLSC is excited to announce a series of Town Halls happening during Surgical Education Week 2019 and the following week.  We would love to have you join us at one of the follow three events where we will discuss:

  1. Where the collaborative has been 
  2. Where we are heading, including the upcoming release of automatic case-logging in SIMPL
  3. Opportunities for leadership within our growing organization 

The Town Halls will be: 

  1. In-person during Surgical Education Week at the Fairmont Hotel starting at 5pm local time.
  2. Webinar on Tuesday, April 30th at 4pm Eastern at https://bluejeans.com/467850272
  3. Webinar on Thursday, May 2nd at 1pm Eastern at https://bluejeans.com/467850272

To RSVP, please go to the following link: https://forms.gle/5v846aYL4gdb8QCB6 

01 Aug

In Memory of Reed Williams, PhD

Posted by: Brian George
in Blog
Views: 5292

williams 168x200pxIt is with great sadness that I must report the recent and unexpected passing of Reed Williams, PhD on June 20th, 2018.

Reed, a board member of PLSC, was one of the most respected and prolific educational researchers in North America. His contributions to performance evaluation in medical student and house-staff training have had a great impact on current practice, including everything we have done with SIMPL. He was also a kind, honest, humble, and thoughtful man who served as a friend, colleague, and mentor to many, including many of us. He is survived by his wife Sue and two sons. 

Reed spent many years working with surgical educators, first at Southern Illinois University and later at Indiana University. In both places he had an especially close collaboration with Dr. Gary Dunnington. More recently, he became an active member of the Procedural Learning and Safety Collaborative where he was central to the consortium's work. His contributions to this and many other organizations and projects stand as a testament to his intellectual generosity, keen insight, and rigorous approach. 

Above all, however, Reed had an unwavering commitment to the truth. This characteristic is well illustrated by the first interaction I had with Reed, long before we became collaborators. He was skeptical that our approach to using a single-item assessment (Zwisch) was sufficient, and matter-of-factly said so. But he wasn’t satisfied to simply disagree. Instead, he went back to re-analyze data he had previously collected in the process of validating a multi-item scale (OPRS) to see if his opinion held up to closer scrutiny. A month later he shared his results: a single item scale was, in fact, sufficient. I will always admire his willingness, even when it contradicted his prior experience, to believe in the scientific process. As a researcher, that is one of the highest compliments that I can pay this extraordinary man.

More generally, Reed wanted to use science to make the world a better place. He achieved his goal, even if there was so much more that he wanted to do. Thank you, Reed, for all that you gave. We will miss you terribly.

Brian George, on behalf of everyone at the PLSC

We will be organizing a memorial for Reed at SEW in April, which we will formally announce as the date approaches. We are also going to fund an award in his name, most likely through the Association for Surgical Education. If you would like to help organize his memorial or contribute to an award, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.