Development of a Modular and Equitable Surgical Simulator

There is a tremendous need for affordable and accessible surgical simulators in the United States and abroad. Our group developed a portable, modular, inexpensive surgical simulator designed for all levels of surgical trainees, from medical students to cardiothoracic surgery fellows, and adaptable to a variety of surgical specialties. Our goal is to provide a platform for innovative surgery simulation that applies to any learner or resource setting. We describe the development, assembly, and future directions for this simulator.

A longitudinal surgical systems strengthening research program for medical students: the exploration of a model for global health education

In response to the staggering global burden of conditions requiring emergency and essential surgery, the development of international surgical system strengthening (SSS) is fundamental to achieving universal, timely, quality, and affordable surgical care. Opportunity exists in identifying optimal collaborative processes that both promote global surgery research and SSS, and include medical students. This study explores an education model to engage students in academic global surgery and SSS via institutional support for longitudinal research.

We set out to design a program to align global health education and longitudinal health systems research by creating an education model to engage medical students in academic global surgery and SSS.

Program design and implementation
In 2015, medical schools in the United States and Colombia initiated a collaborative partnership for academic global surgery research and SSS. This included development of two longitudinal academic tracks in global health medical education and academic global surgery, which we differentiated by level of institutional resourcing. Herein is a retrospective evaluation of the first two years of this program by using commonly recognized academic output metrics.

Main achievements
In the first two years of the program, there were 76 total applicants to the two longitudinal tracks. Six of the 16 (37.5%) accepted students selected global surgery faculty as mentors (Acute Care Surgery faculty participating in SSS with Colombia). These global surgery students subsequently spent 24 total working weeks abroad over the two-year period participating in culminating research experiences in SSS. As a quantitative measure of the program’s success, the students collectively produced a total of twenty scholarly pieces in the form of accepted posters, abstracts, podium presentations, and manuscripts in partnership with Colombian research mentors.

Policy implications
The establishment of scholarly global health education and research tracks has afforded our medical students an active role in international SSS through participation in academic global surgery research. We propose that these complementary programs can serve as a model for disseminated education and training of the future global systems-aware surgeon workforce with bidirectional growth in south and north regions with traditionally under-resourced SSS training programs.

Genitourinary reconstructive surgery curriculum and postgraduate training program development in the Caribbean

Objectives: To describe the development of a genitourinary reconstructive fellowship curriculum and the establishment of the first genitourinary reconstructive and pelvic floor postgraduate training program in the Caribbean.

Methods: In an effort to respond to the need for specialty-trained reconstructive urologists in the Dominican Republic, we developed an18-month fellowship program to train local surgeons. The process began with creation of a curriculum and partnership with in-country physicians, societies, hospitals, and government officials. We sought accreditation via a well-established local university, and fellowship candidates were selected. A database was maintained to track outcomes. Subjective and objective reviews were performed of the fellows.

Results: The first fellow graduated in 2018, the second in 2020, and the third is currently in training. The curriculum was created and implemented. The fellowship has been successfully integrated into the health system, and the fellows performed 199 and 235 cases, respectively, during the program, completing all rotations successfully. They have been appointed to the national health system. Both graduates are now docents in the program and in the public system. Additional staff including radiologists, radiology technicians, nurses, urology residents (both Dominican and American), urology attendings, operating room staff, and anesthesia residents were trained as a result of the program.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first fellowship of its kind in the Caribbean. A novel curriculum was created and implemented, and the first 2 fellows have successfully completed all rotations. This training model may be transferable to additional sites.

Survey of Social Media Use for Surgical Education During Covid-19

Objective: To evaluate the use of social media platforms by medical students, surgical trainees, and practicing surgeons for surgical education during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Methods: An online, 15-question survey was developed and posted on Facebook and WhatsApp closed surgeon groups.

Results: The online survey was completed by 219 participants from South America (87%), North America (7%), Europe (5%), Central America, and Asia. Respondents included medical students (6.4%), surgical residents/fellows (24.2%), and practicing surgeons (69.4%). The most common age group was 35-44 years. When asked which social media platforms they preferred, the video sharing site YouTube (33.3%), the messaging app WhatsApp (21%), and “other” (including videoconferencing sites) (22.3%) were most popular. Respondents reported using social media for surgical education either daily (38.4%) or weekly (45.2%), for an average of 1-5 hours/week. Most (85%) opined that surgical conferences that were cancelled during the pandemic should be made available online, with live discussions.

Conclusion: Social media use for surgical education during Covid-19 appears to be increasing and evolving.

Virtual learning in global surgery: current strategies and adaptation for the COVID-19 pandemic

Modern surgical education has shifted to include technology as an integral component of training programs. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need to identify currently training modalities in global surgery and to delineate how these can be best used given the shift of global surgical training to the virtual setting. Here, we conducted a rapid review of the MEDLINE database examining the current status of training modalities in global surgical training programs and presented a case study of a virtual learning course on providing safe surgical care in the time of a pandemic. Our rapid review identified 285 publications, of which 101 were included in our analysis. Most articles describe training in high income country environments (87%, 88/101). The principal training modality described is apprenticeship (46%, 46/101), followed by simulation training (37%, 37/101), and virtual learning strategies (14%, 14/101). Our focused case study describes a virtual course entitled “Safe Surgical Care: Strategies During Pandemics,” created at the University of British Columbia by E.J., published 1-month postdeclaration of the pandemic. This multimodal course was rolled-out over a 5-week period and had significant engagement on an international level, with 1944 participants from 105 countries. With in-person training decreased as a result of the pandemic, virtual reality, virtual simulation, and telementoring may serve to bridge this gap. We propose that virtual learning strategies be integrated into global surgical training through the pursuit of increased accessibility, incorporation of telementoring, and inclusion in national health policy.

Self-reported confidence and perceived training needs of surgical interns at a regional hospital in Ghana: a questionnaire survey

Due to disparities in their regional distribution of the surgical specialists, those who have finished “housemanship,” which is the equivalent of an internship, are serving as main surgical care providers in rural areas in Ghana. However, the quantitative volume of postgraduate surgical training experience and the level of self-reported confidence after formal training have not been investigated in detail in sub-Saharan Africa.

The quality-assessment data of the Department of surgery at a regional hospital in Ghana was obtained from the convenience samples of house officers (HOs) who had their surgical rotation before July 2019. A self-reported questionnaire with 5-point Likert-type scale and open-ended responses regarding the 35 topics listed as learning objectives by the Medical and Dental Council of Ghana were retrospectively reviewed to investigate the volume of surgical experience, self-reported confidence, and perceived training needs.

Among 52 respondents, the median self-reported number of patients experienced for each condition was less than 11 cases. More than 40% of HOs reported that they had never experienced cases of liver tumor (n = 21, 40.4%), portal hypertension (n = 23, 44.2%), or cancer chemotherapy/cancer therapy (n = 26, 50.0%). The median self-confidence score was 3.69 (interquartile range, 3.04 ~ 4.08). More than 50% of HOs scored ≤2 points on the self-confidence scale of gastric cancer (n = 28, 53.8%), colorectal cancer (n = 31, 59.6%), liver tumors (n = 32, 61.5%), and cancer chemotherapy/cancer therapy (n = 38, 73.1%). The top 3 reasons for not feeling confident were the limited number of patients (n = 42, 80.8%), resources and infrastructure (n = 21, 40.4%), and amount of supervision (n = 18, 34.6%). Eighteen HOs (34.6%) rated their confidence in their surgical skills as ≤2 points. Of all respondents, 76.9% (n = 40) were satisfied with their surgical rotation and 84.6% (n = 44) perceived the surgical rotation as relevant to their future work. Improved basic surgical skills training (n = 27, 51.9%) and improved supervision (n = 18, 34.6%) were suggested as a means to improve surgical rotation.

Surgical rotation during housemanship (internship) should be improved in terms of cancer treatment, surgical skills, and supervision to improve the quality of training, which is closely related to the quality of surgical care in rural areas.

Outcomes of trauma education workshop in Vietnam: improving diagnostic and surgical skills

Unintentional injuries have emerged as a significant public health issue in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), especially in Vietnam, where there is a poor quality of care for trauma. A scarcity of formal and informal training opportunities contributes to a lack of structure for treating trauma in Vietnam. A collaborative trauma education project by the JW LEE Center for Global Medicine in South Korea and the Military Hospital 175 in Vietnam was implemented to enhance trauma care capacity among medical staff across Ho Chi Minh City in 2018. We aimed to evaluate a part of the trauma education project, a one-day workshop that targeted improving diagnostic and surgical skills among the medical staff (physicians and nurses).

A one-day workshop was offered to medical staff across Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2018. The workshop was implemented to enhance the trauma care knowledge of providers and to provide practical and applicable diagnostic and surgical skills. To evaluate the workshop outcomes, we utilized a mixed-methods survey data. All participants (n = 27) voluntarily completed the post-workshop questionnaire. Quality of contents, satisfaction with teaching skills, and perceived benefit were used as outcomes of the workshop, measured by 5-point Likert scales (score: 1–5). Descriptive statistics were performed, and open-ended questions were analyzed by recurring themes.

The results from the post-workshop questionnaire demonstrated that the participants were highly satisfied with the quality of the workshop contents (mean = 4.32 standard deviation (SD) = 0.62). The mean score of the satisfaction regarding the teaching skills was 4.19 (SD = 0.61). The mean score of the perceived benefit from the workshop was 4.17 (SD = 0.63). The open-ended questions revealed that the program improved their knowledge in complex orthopedic surgeries neglected prior to training.

Positive learning experiences highlighted the need for the continuation of the international collaboration of skill development and capacity building for trauma care in Vietnam and other LMIC.

A traveling fellowship to build surgical capacity in Ethiopia: the Jimma University specialized hospital and operation smile partnership

A lack of trained providers is an important contributor to the unmet burden of surgical disease treatment in low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization’s Commission on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel lays out guiding principles for addressing this workforce crisis. However, for surgical subspecialties such as plastic surgery, in-country training opportunities remain limited and there is a clear need for effective strategies to retain providers and develop sustainable solutions. We report the design and early implementation of a traveling fellowship in plastic surgery for providers at Jimma University Specialized Hospital in Jimma, Ethiopia. This fellowship is supported by Operation Smile and its network of international surgical volunteers. Since its inception, the program has trained 2 general surgeons with a commitment to helping train a total of 6 surgeons to establish a self-sustaining service. Key innovations include multiple international sites to facilitate broad subspecialty training, commitment of participants to return to Jimma upon completion of the program to establish a local training service, and coordination with national governing bodies to ensure program recognition and support. Ongoing challenges include physical resource limitations and coordination with a wide array of stakeholders. Nongovernmental organizations also have a role to play in supporting the Ministries of Health in scaling up human resources for improved health within their countries. Operation Smile’s traveling fellowship demonstrates a feasible method of addressing the health workforce crisis by providing specialized training and facilitating the development of surgical teaching programs capable of sustainably serving local communities.

An International Collaborative Study on Surgical Education for Quality Improvement (ASSURED): A Project by the 2017 International Society of Surgery (ISS/SIC) Travel Scholars International Working Group

Background: There is a huge difference in the standard of surgical training in different countries around the world. The disparity is more obvious in the various models of surgical training in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) compared to high-income countries. Although the global training model of surgeons is evolving from an apprenticeship model to a competency-based model with additional training using simulation, the training of surgeons in LMICs still lacks a standard pathway of training.

Methods: This is a qualitative, descriptive, and collaborative study conducted in six LMICs across Asia, Africa, and South America. The data were collected on the status of surgical education in these countries as per the guidelines designed for the ASSURED project along with plans for quality improvement in surgical education in these countries.

Results: The training model in these selected LMICs appears to be a hybrid of the standard models of surgical training. The training models were tailored to the country’s need, but many fail to meet international standards. There are many areas identified that can be addressed in order to improve the quality of surgical education in these countries.

Conclusions: Many areas need to be improved for a better quality of surgical training in LMICs. There is a need of financial, technical, and research support for the improvement in these models of surgical education in LMICs.