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Evolution of Cleft Lip and Palate Surgical Training in the UK: A Qualitative Study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Sainsbury, Peter Hodgkinson


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© 2021, American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association.Background: Although the United Kingdom (UK) cleft surgeons follow a similar training pathway, and cleft centers adhere to similar protocols regarding the timing of palate surgery and surgical technique, speech outcomes still vary between centers. Objective: To explore the training experiences of consultant cleft lip and palate (CL/P) surgeons, performing a Sommerlad radical intravelar veloplasty (IVVP) and their approach to teaching others. Design: An exploratory, qualitative approach was adopted to understand the views of UK cleft surgeons performing a Sommerlad radical IVVP and discuss what was important during training and upon qualifying as a consultant. Method: A semi-structured interview schedule was designed, interviews were conducted in-person or via videoconferencing, depending on preference and availability, with interested surgeons. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and checked for accuracy. Analysis involved inductive thematic analysis. Results: Fourteen cleft consultants from the UK participated (3F:11M). Seven of the consultants were trained in plastic surgery and four in maxillofacial surgery. Seven themes were identified from the thematic analysis. Three themes, namely Learning to perform palate repair, Teaching others to perform palate repair, and Ongoing learning as a consultant are discussed. Conclusions: Cleft palate repair is clearly a technically challenging procedure to learn and teach with the potential to cause harm if performed incorrectly. Positive changes have been made to improve exposure to palate surgery, encourage practice away from the patient, and increase supervised practical experience. The role of colleagues in providing mentorship and support appears invaluable. We provide some simple recommendations that may improve the training experience and ensure parity for all trainees.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Butterworth S, Hodgkinson EL, Stock NM, Sainsbury DCG, Hodgkinson PD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Cleft Palate Craniofacial Journal

Year: 2023

Volume: 60

Issue: 2

Pages: 197-210

Print publication date: 01/02/2023

Online publication date: 17/11/2021

Acceptance date: 02/04/2020

ISSN (print): 1055-6656

ISSN (electronic): 1545-1569

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/10556656211058443

PubMed id: 34786999


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