Education Events

Youth Outreach at the WISE Center

On July 15, 2021, General Surgery residents Britta Han, MD, MSEd, Alston James, MD, and Kerry Swanson, MD, alongside Washington University Institute for Surgical Education (WISE) coordinators, participated in the BJC School Outreach and Youth Development’s 2021 Adventures in Healthcare Camp. The virtual camp allowed local 7th and 8th graders to explore adventures in occupations such as nursing, research, public health and more.

During the WISE Center session, the residents and staff gave the participants a tour of the surgical simulation lab and discussed various elements of surgery, including suturing, performing endoscopies and working with surgical robots. With this community outreach, the presenters at this event and organizers of the camp hope to inspire the next generation to pursue careers in healthcare.

The WISE Center is an American College of Surgeons (ACS) Accredited Education Institute (AEI) with a broad curriculum that includes use of endoscopy and laparoscopic simulators, training in surgical techniques and instrumentation, cadaver dissection, instruction in emergent procedures and preparation for performing specific surgical procedures. In addition to general surgery residents, the WISE Center provides training to practicing surgeons, physicians from other disciplines, residents from other disciplines, medical students, allied health professionals and nurses.

The tour kicked off with WISE Coordinators Karen Schubert, BS, and Angelia DeClue, CST, and WISE Administrator Peggy Frisella, BSN, explaining the history and purpose of the lab. After the participants were familiar with the background, the tour headed into the suture station where they met Han, James and Swanson. The residents discussed different types of suturing and suturing thread, including absorbable and non-absorbable, and demonstrated how to tie a surgical knot.

Next, the team brought the participants to the laparoscopic equipment and explained the benefits of using these instruments. “Patients have required surgical intervention for a very long time, but only until the last couple of decades have we had the video technology that is capable of giving us high-definition vision inside the abdomen,” said James. Han also pointed out that laparoscopic surgeries require smaller incisions compared to traditional surgeries. “This is really nice because then patients don’t have a big scar at the end,” she explained.

After showing the laparoscopic instruments, the group went to another room to explain endoscopic surgery and to demonstrate the procedure with the endoscopic simulator. As Swanson set up the simulator, James explained what procedures the endoscope is used for. “We have the ability to take a look at organs in the GI tract without having to make any incision at all,” James said. Swanson and the WISE coordinators then walked through a typical endoscopic simulation with the participants.

The last stop of the tour was the robotics room with the da Vinci Xi surgical system. A representative from Intuitive explained the robot and the benefits of minimally invasive surgery while Han controlled the system. “The robot is like having miniature hands and wrists inside the patient,” the representative explained. Han also demonstrated how to set up the robot and put its arms into place to prepare for surgery.

As the tour ended, the residents and WISE team took last questions from the attendees and thanked them for their participation. “We want to thank you all so much for your very cool presentation of all your different robots, we really appreciate it,” said the BJC School Outreach and Youth Development facilitator. Overall, the event was a success and the presenters enjoyed sharing their passion for surgery with the young participants.