At the advent of the two-year collaboration between AANA and VirtaMed, AANA CEO, Laura Downes, CAE, said, “We have assessed all virtual reality arthroscopy simulators on the market, and VirtaMed was clearly the best fit to partner with AANA. The combination of lifelike anatomic models, high-fidelity graphics and original tools adapted for simulation make the VirtaMed ArthroS™ the closest thing to real surgery.”
In November 2017, months prior to the official two-year partnership between AANA and VirtaMed, the Editorial Board of AANA’s official publication Arthroscopy authored “Arthroscopic Training in the 21st century: A Changing Paradigm,” addressing a question that, as they characterize it, “persists to this day: What is the best way to train a surgeon?” Furthermore, “What is the best method to train surgeons while maintaining patient safety and efficiency?” (emphasis mine).
Their query showed that proficiency-based progression (PBP), “an effective method to optimize learning of technical and procedural skills […] requires mastery of basic skill tasks before advancing to more complicated tasks.” In accordance with this approach, for trainees at AANA Resident Courses, “the first day [...] is spent in a dry lab, where residents learn and perform basic arthroscopic tasks at knot-tying stations, Fundamentals of Arthroscopy Surgery Training (FAST) workstations and computerized arthroscopy simulators.”
Rewinding even further into the first months of 2017 to one such three-day Resident Course at the Orthopaedic Learning Center in Rosemont, Illinois, AANA facilitated the use of the VirtaMed simulators.
Residents were split into teams and asked to complete a survey upon completion of the exercises.
The survey responses were compelling, to say the least.
97 percent of respondents felt they would be able to transfer skills used on a simulator to real-life situations.
100 percent of respondents found simulation beneficial to their learning experience.
In line with Drs. Feldman, Brand, Ross and Lubowitz’s assertion that effective training should progress from basic skill acquisition to more challenging tasks, VirtaMed offers the ArthroS™ FAST module, which follows the AANA FAST program. This program has been developed within the ABOS mandate for surgical skills training in collaboration with AANA. It contains several motor skill training tasks that guide trainees through the first steps of arthroscopy.
Once those basic skills are mastered, the trainee is prepared for more advanced diagnostics and therapeutic procedures, available for knee, hip, shoulder and ankle modules on the VirtaMed ArthroS™. These accompany a resident through PGY 1-5 and into certain fellowship programs.
The Editorial Board posits,
“Research clearly shows that simulator training can improve performance (on the simulator) and we anticipate that future research will demonstrate improved performance on real patients.”
In answer to the question, “What is the future of arthroscopic surgical education?” they proffer,
“Your editors are firm believers in PBP training using simulators. […] Students of arthroscopy could spend less time observing and more time improving their skills. Only after basic and then advanced skills are satisfactorily demonstrated should trainees participate in hands-on cases of the patients, presumably to the benefit of all parties involved.”
Where the question of methodology was answered by the Editorial Board’s treatise, the issue of which simulator residents and specialists prefer is clearly addressed by the survey results as well as AANA’s decision to form an exclusive partnership with VirtaMed.
AANA Learning Center Committee Chair Joseph C. Tauro, M.D., stated, “Our goal is to improve patient care by advancing education in arthroscopy, and we want to ensure all arthroscopic surgeons have access to high-quality skills training and continuous education. Working with VirtaMed's first-rate simulators, experienced developers and dedicated education specialists will help us reach that goal.”
Here at VirtaMed, with our vision to improve the quality of care with state-of-the-art, virtual reality-based medical training and education, we are honored and inspired to work alongside AANA in reaching our mutual goals and to continue providing preferred, effective and efficient methods of surgical skills acquisition and training.