Over the past decade, advances in surgical technology have led to an increasing number of cases being performed robotically. Robotic surgery, like laparoscopic surgery, typically involves smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times than traditional open surgery. Robotic surgery may also offer improved ergonomics, enhanced visualization and greater range of motion for surgeons trained in this technique. General surgery residents at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis gain valuable experience in robotic surgery through training courses at the Washington University Institute for Surgical Education (WISE).
“Many of our residents have already observed robotic surgery cases,” says Michael Awad, MD, PhD, director of WISE. “We introduce residents to robotic surgery skills in our simulation center to give them hands-on experience in a simulated environment, where education can take center stage. This allows our trainees to make the transition from the role of the observer to being active participants in clinical cases.”
During a recent course at the WISE Center, led by Awad and Arnab Majumder, MD, general surgery residents practiced bedside and console skills critical to robot-assisted surgery. At the bedside, residents learned nomenclature, practiced port placement, and operated the mechanisms necessary for docking. In console stations, the residents practiced psychomotor skills related to operating the camera, clutching and utilizing surgical tools. An advanced robotic surgery training course offers further experience with critical skills, such as emergency undocking.
Accredited by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) as a Level 1 Accredited Education Institute (AEI), WISE provides opportunities for residents and other medical trainees to develop skills through validated educational techniques. Awad and Majumder led the recent session using illustrations and explanations, quizzes and repetition, and significant hands-on training time with the robot. Residents were encouraged to ask questions and try different techniques throughout the course.
“Robotic surgery is a relatively new development,” says Majumder, who completed an advanced GI/minimally invasive surgery/abdominal wall reconstruction fellowship at the School of Medicine before joining the faculty. “Not all programs are able to offer this level of simulation training. Not all institutions have attending physicians who are experienced in utilizing the robot. Our residents will have examples to follow and experience to draw on in their own careers as surgeons.”
At these training courses, Majumder, who specializes in robotic abdominal wall hernia repair, offers practical advice acquired through his extensive surgical experience. Awad, who was inducted into the ACS Academy of Master Surgeon Educators in 2020, leads the institute in developing and implementing innovative curricula to prepare trainees for clinical application. WISE training programs are supported by a dedicated team of staff focused on coordinating surgical-based educational labs. The WISE Center also offers an ACS-AEI Education Fellowship for trainees interested in pursuing careers in surgical education.
For more information on WISE trainings, labs and certifications, visit the Washington University Institute for Surgical Education.