Do experts practice what they profess?

Yun Zhou, Sudanthi Wijewickrema, Ioanna Ioannou, James Bailey, Gregor Kennedy, Debra Nestel, Stephen O’Leary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We investigated the variation of drilled regions of expert and trainee surgeons performing virtual temporal bone surgery to identify their compliance with standard drilling procedures. To this end, we recruited seven expert and six trainee ENT surgeons, who were asked to perform the surgical preparations for cochlear implantation on a virtual temporal bone. The temporal bone was divided into six regions using a semi-automated approach. The drilled area in each region was compared between groups using a sign test. Similarity within groups was calculated as a ratio of voxels (3D points) drilled by at least 75% of surgeons and at least 25% of surgeons. We observed a significant difference between groups when performing critical tasks such as exposing the facial nerve, opening the facial recess, and finding the round window. In these regions, experts’ practice is more similar to each other than that between trainees. Consistent with models of skills development, expertise and expert-performance, the outcome of the analysis shows that experts perform similarly in critical parts of the procedure, and do indeed practice what they profess.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0190611
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • surgeons
  • trainees
  • otolaryngological procedures
  • facial nerve
  • surgical and invasive medical procedures
  • face
  • simulation and modeling
  • virtual reality

Cite this

Zhou, Y., Wijewickrema, S., Ioannou, I., Bailey, J., Kennedy, G., Nestel, D., & O’Leary, S. (2018). Do experts practice what they profess? PLoS ONE, 13(1), [e0190611].