Background and study aims: The present study was carried out in the context of current discussions concerning ways in which simulation systems can be integrated sensibly and effectively into clinical educational structures, in order to shorten the training period for assistants and reduce potential risks for the patient. In our study, a number of centers used a standardized training approach, in 1 week courses, to investigate the learning curve improvement that can be achieved with a group of beginners in upper gastroduodenal endoscopy.
Materials and methods: The multicenter study used the Erlangen Endo-Trainer, with specially prepared biological specimens from pigs. Using this, the individual steps of diagnostic upper gastrointestinal endoscopy with biopsy can be carried out following a score-card system. After a theoretical introduction and a demonstration of the examination by an experienced endoscopist, an initial evaluation score for each participant was obtained on day 1. On the following days, the program consisted of 2 hours' training by a tutor, followed by a test run for each participant. On days 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 the test run was directly followed by a self-assessment. In addition, on days 1, 3, and 5 the test run for each beginner was recorded on video, with each video assigned an encrypted code number. All the end of the study week, control assessments of these videos were carried out by an experienced endoscopist.
Results: Both the self-assessments and the control assessments showed significant improvements in the endoscopic parameters tested during the course (days 1-5; all parameters P < 0.001, Wilcoxon-test). However, it was found that the trainees tended to give themselves better marks than the marks given by experienced endoscopists.
Conclusion: During 1 week of training, using the model and following the score card, a significant improvement in the learning curve was achieved in the beginners' group for the individual steps involved in diagnostic upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. When this approach is used with trainees who are also provided with the necessary theoretical background, this type of preparation may lead to a better, lower-risk start to supervised practical endoscopic examinations in patients.