Since 2007, medical education company VirtaMed has been developing surgical simulators. The company now produces simulators for various medical specialties, including general surgery, orthopedics, urology and obstetrics and gynecology.
Image Credit: VirtaMed
During COVID-19, VirtaMed has taken their simulators on ‘tour’ numerous times to support continued medical education and supply workshops for residents across Switzerland, France and Germany.
Deemed impactful by residents and educators alike, the majority of tour participants agreed that surgical simulation should be a definite training requirement.
Switzerland surgical simulation tour
VirtaMed launched a new way of supplying medical training with the latest healthcare simulation solutions during 2020. Switzerland’s first mobile surgical simulation lab delivered risk-free training to the doors of university hospitals and toured for three months.
The mobile surgical simulation lab was equipped with the latest mixed reality simulators and covered over 2000 kilometers (1250 miles) around Switzerland. The lab visited 16 Swiss university hospitals in total, starting in St. Gallen, continuing to Lucerne, Berne and Geneva and finishing in Lausanne.
Residents had training in different medical specialties during this tour, including OB-GYN, orthopedics and general surgery. While being led by clinical simulation experts, they were given the chance to enhance their performance in the most motivational and realistic simulation environment possible.
Introducing the new LaparoS laparoscopy simulator to residents was a highlight of the tour, according to VirtaMed.
This next generation laparoscopic simulator provides unique training for key steps of laparoscopic procedures, including free trocar placement, realistic patient positioning and the ability for numerous surgeons to operate on the same virtual patient simultaneously.
“With this wonderful initiative, we had the chance to offer training everywhere in Switzerland. For me, it was an energizing ‘back to the roots!’ I started my simulation journey more than 15 years ago in the laparoscopic training center in Zurich,” said Dr. Martina Vitz, vice president of training and education at VirtaMed.
With LaparoS, VirtaMed now also offers laparoscopy training, and the difference between now and then is significant. I am really proud that we could so positively contribute to surgical training during this crisis.”
Dr. Martina Vitz, Vice President of Training and Education, VirtaMed
France surgical simulation tour
In September 2020, VirtaMed’s second surgical simulation tour in France was launched in collaboration with the STAN Institute and the French Association of Surgery (AFC).
This trip continued to bring hands-on training to residents currently impacted by COVID-19. It began in Strasbourg and ended with a final round of surgical training at the Marseille University Hospital Center for Surgical Education and Research (CERC) in March 2021.
As the High Authority for Health (HAS) in France reiterates the fundamental principle of “never the first time on a patient,” this tour stop was appropriate and is particularly relevant to surgery and surgery simulation.
“The mobile surgical simulation laboratory plays an essential role in promoting simulation as a training tool in many university hospitals. We are delighted to partner with VirtaMed and bring the latest generation of simulators to our colleagues. The health crisis has had a negative impact on surgical training, but this joint initiative shows how much a pioneering spirit can succeed.”
Prof. Patrick Pessaux, president of the French Association of Surgery
Germany medical simulation tour
VirtaMed started its third tour and training initiative in February 2021 at the Martin Luther Krankenhaus in Berlin with the German Knee Society (DKG). Equipped with the ArthroS, VirtaMed’s arthroscopy simulator, this trip showed both VirtaMed and DKG’s commitment to finding innovative ways to give training.
To ensure that orthopedic residents within the country can practice their skills safely during covid and in a risk-free environment outside of the operating room, the lab now travels across Germany.
The training of residents and future generations of surgeons is an essential subject for the DKG, and it is why simulation-based training plays an important part. The lessons drawn from this healthcare crisis prompt us to rethink the way residents are trained.”
Prof. Wolf Petersen, President, DKG
New normal: 1 hr per week of simulation training
VirtaMed gathered data from residents during all three tours. This data demonstrated that 60% had already had experience with virtual reality simulation prior to this tour stop.
100% of residents surveyed after the training felt that simulation training was advantageous and 80% thought that it should be mandatory. Respondents also concluded that 40 hours per year, or close to an hour per week, is the average minimum time that residents want to be mandated for healthcare simulation.
VirtaMed believes that all patients should experience world-class surgical excellence. Since 2007, we empower surgeons to reach proficiency by integrating intelligent simulation into medical education.
Today, there are over 100 VirtaMedians worldwide, with innovation headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, and a global network of expert partners. VirtaMed’s simulation and advanced data analytics are embedded into medical education in collaboration with hospitals, medical societies, and life science companies.
VirtaMedians passionately live innovation in a customer-oriented, agile, diverse and inclusive work environment.
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