As with most disciplines in the medical profession, gynecology and obstetrics have had to adapt to new ways of training due to the changing clinical circumstances caused by the COVID-19 virus.
VirtaMedian Erin Zimmerman Ph.D. was excited to work with the European Board & College of Obstetrics and Gynecology on a position statement about the utilization of simulation-based training for OB/GYN learning during the pandemic. The European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology published this statement.
EBCOG noted that trainees currently face a bigger limitation on patient contact and also on opportunities to travel for peer-to-peer and continuing education. One option that mitigates some of the limitations occurring during COVID-19 is simulation training.
In order to combat existing discrepancies in women's healthcare between EU Member States, simulation training can and should be employed to support high-quality training across socio-demographic and geographic lines.
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As it is known to enhance psychomotor skills, simulation training should be considered a key step in the transition from classroom learning to clinical practice.
Simulation-based training should be expanded to support the learning of a large skillset, from basic tool handling to pathology identification and to the performance of different procedures, with the aim of maintaining a high standard of training across Europe.
EBCOG identified the advantages of simulation for training both during and after the pandemic as:
- Overcoming geographic limitations as a result of COVID-19. During the pandemic, a number of people are unwilling or unable to travel far, but simulations, together with well-defined training standards, can support knowledge exchange without forcing physical contact.
- Supporting social distancing. Remote and online and training enables everyone to learn from the safety of their homes. Physical simulators can also be placed in such a way that users are able to maintain social distancing.
- Alleviating the negative consequences of interrupted training due to COVID-19. Research has demonstrated that simulation training stops skills decay and is effective in teaching new technical skills to novice learners.
Published in 2018, the 'Project for Achieving Consensus in Training (PACT)' simulation training was also identified by EBCOG as a key component of a well-rounded OB/GYN training curriculum in general.
It can also be utilized to support the core skills described in PACT, including placement of IUD, transabdominal and transvaginal ultrasound, open surgical training such as suturing, therapeutic and diagnostic hysteroscopy and laparoscopy and sub-specialty skills training (e.g., embryo transfer).
Simulation training leads to more confident trainees who are better prepared to enter the operating room. Expert mentors also do not have to spend time teaching trainees basic skills as the trainees will have already learned the basics on simulation.
Expert educators can now focus instead on passing on their more advanced experience and knowledge and to the next generation of surgeons
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