Initial experience using an endoscopic simulator to train surgical residents in flexible endoscopy in a community medical center residency program

Curr Surg. 2005 Jan-Feb;62(1):59-63. doi: 10.1016/j.cursur.2004.07.002.


Introduction: The importance of training surgical residents in GI endoscopy has been recognized for years. Despite advice from SAGES and the RRC, few programs have managed to incorporate effective flexible endoscopy training into their curriculum, making it difficult for their graduates to be credentialed in GI endoscopy. Prior to October 2001, our residents obtained their entire clinical experience in the endoscopy unit with staff surgical endoscopists. Attendance was inconsistent because of their many other responsibilities, and residents often used much of their clinical endoscopic exposure gaining basic familiarity with the equipment, precluding the development of therapeutic facility. Since October 2001, we have used the Simbionix endoscopic simulator to supplement resident training in GI endoscopy. With the advent of virtual-reality simulators, and studies validating their effectiveness in teaching fundamental technical skills, we report our initial success in implementing a formal GI endoscopy curriculum using a virtual reality endoscopic simulator to provide basic experience before the clinical endoscopic experience begins.

Methods: Residents are given monthly assignments of simulated cases on the GI Mentor simulator. Junior residents complete the diagnostic case modules; senior residents complete the therapeutic modules. Data were accumulated over the course of two years with a total of five PGY-I and eight senior surgical residents completing assigned cases on the simulator. Objective criteria were measured from their performance on the simulator to determine the efficiency of the examination for each case completed.

Results: Preliminary data collected over the course of two years indicates that residents improve the efficiency of their endoscopic examinations over time as measured by objective criteria. Junior surgery residents attained an aggregate average of 59% efficiency in their examinations whereas senior surgical residents who had previous experience with the simulator, attained an aggregate efficiency of 80%.

Conclusions: A formal flexible endoscopy curriculum enhances surgical resident training and positively impacts careers in general and gastrointestinal surgery. Endoscopic simulators allow surgical residents to master the technical aspects of GI endoscopy quickly, thereby permitting them more benefit from their clinical exposure in the endoscopy unit. We anticipate that our formal curriculum in GI endoscopy training will prepare our graduates well for careers that include flexible endoscopy as a component of their clinical practices, and position them to be credentialled in GI endoscopy upon graduation.

MeSH terms

  • Colonoscopy
  • Community Health Centers*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Credentialing
  • Curriculum
  • Efficiency
  • Endoscopy, Digestive System / instrumentation
  • Endoscopy, Digestive System / methods*
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • User-Computer Interface*