Techniques for developing surgical students

Innovation is known as one of the key pillars for achieving universal healthcare. [iStockphoto]

Medical students in Kenya will now be able to watch live and pre-recorded surgical procedures as well as 360-degree virtual reality (VR) training.

The Association of Practitioners of Kenya (OTPAK), in collaboration with Professor Jag Dhanda from Brighton and Sussex Medical School, organised a three-day educational workshop for Kenyan doctors at the Faculty of Surgery at the University of Nairobi’s Chiromo campus.

Attendees lectured and practiced on concepts ranging from virtual reality to fracture management, and taught a variety of surgical procedures on cadavers.

These trainings and narrations by Kenya’s leading surgeons were broadcast live on the Virtual Reality in Medicine and Surgery (VRiMS) website and Youtube channel.

“The main purpose of the workshop was to introduce Kenyan surgeons to some of the new virtual resources available and to invite them to the next stage of surgical training, conducted in a virtual environment,” said Professor Jag Dhanda.

These videos are live-streamed and uploaded to the VRiMS website, adding to a library of engaging healthcare content created in clinical settings.

“Doctors can view procedures ranging from anesthesia management, childbirth procedures, to appendectomy, presented with different camera angles, including magnifying glasses,” the professor said.

Innovation is known as one of the key pillars for achieving universal healthcare. However, the current system of training and evaluation of surgeons in rural areas and developing countries has lagged behind the pace of innovation.

This leaves some doctors unprepared for complex procedures, putting some patients at risk.

“Medical school doesn’t quite prepare you for the real world,” says Professor Pankaj Jani, a Kenyan surgeon and educator with more than 30 years of experience.

“People all over the world are making mistakes that can impact the lives of patients who could have been taught in better, more practical ways.”

Traditionally, student physicians had to work with highly complex mannequins, simulated or donated cadavers. They are expensive, complex to set up and have a limited number of students that can be reached at one time.

With VR, large numbers of students can repeat scenes over and over again.

“The trainee can prepare for surgery without the assistance of a busy consultant. It reduces surgical errors and shortens the trainee’s learning curve.”

Surgical VR training has become a concept during the COVID-19 pandemic, where medical students can practice skills without jeopardizing their health.

“Practicing on the human body is not always safe, and our labs are often short of cadavers. The virtual reality training allows surgical students to watch, and once they feel confident in their skills, they are assessed and allowed to operate. It It also gives confidence to the patient,” said Dr. Maurice Mulgaard, a surgical intern at Chogoria Hospital.

Professor Dhanda added that training doctors using virtual reality technology could play an important role in addressing these deficiencies and improving their skills.

He also said the technology could enable surgeons to receive real-time guidance from experienced surgeons around the world.

“The technology is affordable, easy to use, and the medical content is free. A doctor only needs an internet connection and a phone. For a fully immersive experience, a phone-compatible VA headset can be purchased for about 2,500 shillings .

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