Influence of medical students' past experiences and innate dexterity on suturing performance

David T. Hughes, Stephen J. Forest, Rosangela Foitl, Edward Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background Medical students often site their ability to excel at technical tasks as justification for choosing surgery as a career path. We sought to investigate how medical students' dexterity skills and past experiences correlated with suturing performance. Methods Sixty-four 3rd-year medical students were surveyed about previous experiences that involved manual dexterity. Technical skills were then measured using a validated test of manual dexterity and subcuticular closure of a pig's foot incision. Spearman's rank correlation coefficients determined correlation between variables. Results Previous experiences, self-assessment of dexterity, prior suturing, and current interest in surgery did not significantly correlate with manual dexterity or suturing skill scores. Innate manual dexterity score was the only significant correlating factor to suture skill score (Spearman's rank correlation coefficient =.336; P =.007). Conclusions Innate manual dexterity skills are predictive of initial surgical suturing performance regardless of past student experiences. Interventions aimed at improving early surgical technique should be optimally focused on dexterity training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-306
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Dexterity
  • Medical student
  • Suturing skill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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