An early introduction to surgical skills: Validating a low-cost laparoscopic skill training program purpose built for undergraduate medical education

Am J Surg. 2020 Aug 7;S0002-9610(20)30432-3. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2020.07.003. Online ahead of print.


Background: Medical student exposure to laparoscopy is limited to observation despite the prevalence of minimally invasive techniques in practice. The high cost of laparoscopic simulation equipment, commonly called "box trainers", limits undergraduate exposure to skill training.

Methods: Students at a Midwestern medical school were recruited to participate in an experimental laparoscopic skill training program. One cohort (n = 17) used a DIY box trainer design freely available on MedEdPORTAL. A second cohort (n = 17) used a commercially available equivalent. Pre- and post-training attempts for four tasks were scored and the difference was calculated. The average differences for each cohort were then contrasted statistically.

Results: Significant performance improvements (pre- and post-training) were demonstrated regardless of group allocation. The difference in performance between the cohorts was not significant for any task (p > 0.05).

Conclusions: This low-cost training program using DIY box trainers is as effective as commercially available equivalent box trainers for introducing laparoscopic skills to medical students.

Keywords: Experiential learning; Laparoscopy; Low-cost; Simulation; Undergraduate medical education.