Teaching Incision and Drainage: Perceived Educational Value of Abscess Models

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2018 Mar;34(3):174-178. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001240.


Objectives: Incision and drainage (I&D) of skin abscesses is an important procedural skill for pediatric emergency medicine providers. Practical skills training using simulation provides an opportunity to learn and gain confidence with this invasive procedure. Our objective was to assess the perceived educational value of 2 versions of an abscess model as part of an educational workshop for teaching I&D.

Methods: A combined didactic and practical skills workshop was developed for use at 2 national conferences. The didactic content was created through an iterative process. To facilitate hands-on training, 2 versions of an abscess model were created: 1 constructed from a negative mold and the other using a 3-dimensional printer. Participants were surveyed regarding prior experience with I&D, procedural confidence, and perceptions of the educational utility of the models.

Results: Seventy physicians and 75 nurse practitioners participated in the study. Procedural confidence improved after training using each version of the model, with the greatest improvements noted among novice learners. Ninety-four percent of physicians, and 99% of nurse practitioners rated the respective models as either "educational" or "very educational," and 97% and 100%, respectively, would recommend the abscess models to others.

Conclusions: A combined didactic and practical skills educational workshop using novel abscess models was effective at improving learners' confidence. Our novel models provide an effective strategy for teaching procedural skills such as I&D and demonstrate a novel use of 3-dimensional printers in medical education. Further study is needed to determine if these educational gains translate into improvement in clinical performance or patient outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / surgery*
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Curriculum
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Humans
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Physicians
  • Simulation Training / methods*