Clinical Surgery

Professor Steven Yule

I am an academic psychologist with 20 years’ experience studying team performance and non-technical skills in high risk/ high reliability industries (surgery, healthcare, energy, transportation, space exploration). I returned to Scotland in January 2020 after 8 years on faculty at Harvard Medical School. I lead international innovations in surgical research, human factors and patient safety in order to contribute significantly to the betterment of society.

Professor Steven Yule

Chair of Behavioural Sciences

Contact details


The culture of healthcare is shifting to one that embraces non-technical skills as a central driver to make surgery a high reliability industry, reduce avoidable adverse events, and save lives. Our multidisciplinary research program provides a scientific platform for advances in behavioral sciences, non-technical skills, human factors and patient safety. Please email to inquire about current fellowships, research positions, faculty opportunities, and new ideas for collaboration in the following core areas:

Surgical Sabermetrics: These are advanced analytics of digitally recorded surgical training and operative procedures targeted at enhancing insight, supporting professional development, and optimising clinical and safety outcomes. Current research is implementing peer assessment, vision science, and smart checklists to objectively measure and improve the technical and non-technical practices that characterize surgical team behavior. Funded by National Institutes for Health R01HL146619 and R01HL126896.

Coaching: Peer coaching has substantial potential for lifelong learning in technical, non-technical and teaching skills for established surgeons. We developed the Surgical Coaching for Operative Performance Enhancement (SCOPE) program and have implemented it at 4 Harvard hospitals since 2018. Future directions include scalability, involving all operating theatre team members, and optimizing the use of video coaching.

Global Surgery: Resource level has a fundamental impact on team performance and non-technical skills, and with funding from Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Johnson & Johnson, we have been implementing a non-technical skills (NOTSS) curriculum in Rwanda and measuring barriers to implementing non-technical skills in clinical practice. Future work is to scale this program within sub-Saharan Africa, enhance faculty development and support, and develop digital tools for training, monitoring and evaluating impact.

Space Medicine: Long duration spaceflight is a fixed low medical resource setting. To support astronaut crews manage medical events in space, we have developed full scale simulations and behavioral training tools. Current work is developing mixed reality digital training and real time guidance for management of potential medical and surgical events in preparation for future deep space missions. These tools also have applications for telemedical support on earth. Funded by Translational Research Institute for Space Health and NASA 80JSC017N0001.


Appointments and Activities 


Professor and Chair of Behavioural Sciences, University of Edinburgh

Director, MSc Patient Safety & Clinical Human Factors, Edinburgh Surgery Online, University of Edinburgh

Associate Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Leadership Council, Center for Surgery & Public Health, Brigham & Women’s Hospital/ Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA

Associate Faculty, Ariadne Labs for Health System Improvement, Boston, MA

Vice-chair, Committee on Non-Technical Skills for Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, Chicago, IL

Global Education Council, Johnson & Johnson Institute, New York City, NY

Editorial Board, Journal of Surgical Education

Editorial Board, Advances in Simulation

Editorial Board, Journal of Surgical Research



2018-2019 Director of Research & Innovation, STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA

2014-2019 Member, Committee on Surgical Skills Training for Practicing Surgeons, American College of Surgeons

2015-2019 Member, Surgical Quality & Safety Committee, Brigham & Women’s Hospital

2017-2019 Member, Surgical Education Committee, Brigham & Women’s Hospital

2011-2018 Director of Education & Research, STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA

2016-2018 Chair, Education committee, Association for Academic Surgery

2006-2012 Member, Patient Safety Board, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

2007-2011 Lecturer in Psychology, University of Aberdeen



PhD, Industrial & Organizational Psychology, University of Aberdeen (2003)

MSc, Work Design & Ergonomics, University of Birmingham (1999)

MA (Hons), Psychology, University of Aberdeen (1998)


Awards and Distinctions 

2019 Fellowship (Ad Hominem), Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

2019 Innovation Award, Partners Healthcare, Boston, MA

2018 Safety Matters Award for Surgical Team Training Program, Brigham & Women’s Hospital

2016 Joseph E. Murray and Simon J. Simonian Award in Recognition of Outstanding Academic Achievement in Research Mentorship, Brigham & Women’s Hospital/ Harvard Medical School

2016 BMA Council Chair's Choice, British Medical Association Medical Book Awards 2016

2015 Best paper, American College of Surgeons Annual Clinical Congress

2013 Poster of Distinction, Association of Surgeons of Great Britain & Ireland

2011 Best paper, Human Factors & Ergonomics Society (USA)

2010 Best paper, Human Factors & Ergonomics Society (USA)

2010 Moynihan Award shortlist, Association of Surgeons of Great Britain & Ireland

2010 A.B. Milne Prize, University of Aberdeen

2005 Best paper, Society for Medical Simulation


To view Professor Yule's list of publications, please click here.