Operation simulation – new surgical training centre to feature cutting-edge technology
09 May 2017
Surgical skills cannot be mastered by simple observation or by operating skills learned in the anatomy room. The demand for high efficiency and the lack of valuable operating time leaves little time for surgeons to train students within the operating environment.
These clinical pressures, along with the successful introduction of the new eight-year surgical training pathway and the restrictions on working hours under the European Working Time Directive, means there is now a much greater emphasis on off-site training for surgeons.
RCSI National Clinical & Surgical Training Centre
According to Padraig Kelly, associate director of surgical affairs, operations and planning at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), the establishment of the new National Clinical & Surgical Training Centre at RCSI will allow the College to offset the challenges presented by the shorter duration of training and reduced doctors working hours.
“It will enable trainees to learn safe surgical practice, develop their operative skills and it will reinforce the importance of surgical training to patient safety,” he said.
The new simulation facility will be located in RCSI’s new academic education building, in 26 York Street in Dublin’s city centre. It is a state-of-the-art complex that will keep RCSI at the forefront of the education of doctors and healthcare professionals into the future. The new building will be home to 4,500 students and staff and 420 surgical trainees, including emergency medicine trainees and 480 non-trainee non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs).
The new National Clinical & Surgical Training Centre on the top two floors will comprise a cutting-edge surgical and clinical training suite containing a flexible wet laboratory, mock operating theatre, clinical training wards, standardised patients’ rooms and task training rooms.
The surgical training area is designed to enable teaching and training to take place outside the clinical arena in a wet laboratory setting where technical and non-technical skills can be practiced and simulated. But it is not just about technique and the tools of the trade: The immersive experience that will be provided in this new national centre will be an emotionally rich education experience. It will facilitate the development of core technical and non-technical skills in a safe environment.
Two levels of clinical floors below the surgical training area will provide a flexible working space that can be utilised for skills-based training as well as invasive technical skills and non-technical skills such as human factors and patient safety.
The entire building will include a comprehensive audiovisual and centre management system. This technology-enhanced learning system is designed to connect the simulation-based learning environment with the leading management and performance assessment tools for healthcare education to help manage all aspects of healthcare learning.
Features of the building
Padraig Kelly points out that through this system, all learning activities can be recorded in all the rooms across the facility and added to a trainee’s portfolio. “The system allows trainers to view, monitor, assess and mentor trainees remotely,” he explained. This state-of-the-art simulated training approach means that trainees can acquire the skills and mastery needed in a low-stress environment while patients are protected from procedural inexperience.
The surgical skills laboratory will consist of 12 skills stations, accommodating 26 trainees and trainer stations as well as eleven laparoscopic skills stations. This area can be sub-divided into two smaller labs so that courses can be run simultaneously.
Each station will function as a standalone unit and the central feature of each station will be the operating table, designed for tissue dissection. Above each station, there will be a ceiling mounted pendant which will supply all services, (e.g. water, vacuum/suction, compressed air, power, light and audiovisual).
The operating suite adjacent to the surgical skills laboratory includes a functioning operating theatre, control room and observation/debrief room for up to 20 trainees. Designed for surgical education and exploration, this leading-edge facility provides surgeons with the perfect environment in which to develop, learn and practice the latest surgical techniques relevant to their specific areas of professional interest.
The theatre will also be equipped with the latest laparoscopic equipment and it offers multi-angle video capture offering numerous opportunities to develop and teach technical skills.
Full-scale realistic simulation supported by leading-edge technology will be provided in the surgical simulation centre, to optimise all aspects of simulation and surgical skills training and education. The simulators in the centre will cover a broad range of specialties with a particular focus on the twelve surgical and emergency medicine specialties and sub-specialties. RCSI films surgical procedures in 360-degree video as part of the immersive virtual reality experience for surgical trainees.
When operational, the 26 York Street building will provide an emotionally rich educational experience for undergraduate students and surgeons alike. Most significantly, it will allow early clinical education to be delivered away from the patient’s bedside, enabling students and trainees to learn in a simulated environment. This is a unique benefit for RCSI students, which is not currently offered by other medical schools.
The building will facilitate the development of core technical and non-technical skills in a safe environment. The undergraduate student intake of September 2017 will be the first to benefit from this world-class facility, which is the largest of its kind in Europe. Take a virtual tour at rcsi.ie/26yorkstreet. For more information, see the video:
This article first appeared in RCSI Alumni Magazine 2017, published by Gloss Publications, and is reproduced with kind permission.