In a featured research presentation, surgical resident Dr. Joel Price discussed the use of a low-tech simulator to give trainee surgeons after-hours practice time to hone their technique. Surgical skills are usually learned directly on patients in the OR, but a variety of evolving issues are making this approach insufficient. These include the increasing complexity of procedures, restrictions on the number of hours that trainees can be required to work and an ever-more litigious society.
The simulation provided the trainees with a deliberate, repetitive and low-consequence environment for practicing.
The study required first-year residents to perform 10 vascular anastomoses after hours on a simulator over a one-week period. An anastomosis involves suturing together two blood vessels. The simulator consisted of paper tubes that were sewn together with sutures and forceps. The simulation provided the trainees with a deliberate, repetitive and low-consequence environment for practicing the technique.
As compared to residents who received traditional training alone, those that used the simulator were rated faster and more technically skilful when performing the procedure in the OR, and they produced a higher quality end product.