American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons

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Surgical Simulation Education in Plastic Surgery: What Have We done and What Can We Learn From Other Specialties?
Olivier F. Noel, PhD1; Joseph Lopez, MD, MBA2; Michael Alperovich, MD, MSc, FACS2; Adnan Prsic, MD2; Henry C. Hsia, MD FACS2
1Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA, USA, 2Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CA, USA

Background: Simulation tools continue to play an important part in surgical education, particularly allowing junior trainees an opportunity to familiarize themselves with various procedures that they either have not been exposed to or have not had enough repetition to feel confident enough to execute. It is particularly relevant when surgical training is interrupted due to unforeseen circumstances (i.e. COVID19) or to personal reasons (i.e. pregnancy, leave of absence). The ability to remotely work on technical skills has tremendous value and is certainly one of the reasons that we have continued to develop new surgical simulation tools, particularly in the field of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS)
Methods: A review of the major surgical simulations tools and anatomy software tools available within the various subdivisions of PRS such as craniofacial, microsurgery, aesthetic, and burn was performed (Table 1). We also reviewed some of the simulation tools available in other surgical specialties and evaluated them for fit and utility in PRS surgical education
Results: Our study shows that while various surgical simulators have been developed in PRS over the years, there remains a gap in terms of the ability for residents and trainees to acquire real-life skills remotely along with the capability to receive live feedback from faculty
Conclusion: This review shows that further tools need to be developed to optimize the acquisition and maintenance of surgical skills in a remote fashion. Taken together, this review provides (i) an overview of the evolution of surgical simulation education within PRS, (ii) a summary of lessons learned from the simulation experience within other surgical specialties and (iii) a review simulation alternative tools to help advance real time surgical training in PRS.


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