Evolving Educational Techniques in Surgical Training

Dr. Carlos Chacon

February 14, 2023

Evolving Educational Techniques in Surgical TrainingEvolving Educational Techniques in Surgical TrainingSurgical training is undergoing a dramatic transformation. The combination of new technologies and external pressures, including duty hour restrictions, challenges traditional training techniques and forces surgeon-educators to rethink previously held principles. Fortunately, there are several ways that surgical training can evolve in parallel to meet these changing demands. One way is through the use of simulation. Evolving Educational Techniques in Surgical Training .


Surgical simulation is an educational technique that allows medical professionals to learn and practise technical skills before operating on patients. In this way, trainee surgeons become more proficient and less likely to make mistakes in the operating theatre, resulting in improved patient outcomes.

Surgeon educators are rethinking the role of simulators in surgical training following recent duty-hour restrictions and the implementation of new technology. This has led to a rethinking of previously held principles and the need to shift the learning curve to the left, steepening it to enable trainees to achieve fluency with fewer iterations in real-world scenarios.

A literature review was performed to identify studies that have discussed the integration of simulators in surgical training curricula. We found that a high proportion of studies aimed to evaluate the benefits of simulation training. Most of the studies considered that simulators are a good tool for developing technical skills for surgeons. Moreover, simulators can be used to train students on the use of computer-integrated robots in minimally invasive surgery.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality is a technology that transports you into a specific place and time. It is used for various purposes, from tourism to training pilots and astronauts.

VR can also help train surgeons in a variety of medical procedures. It is a more immersive experience than traditional training methods and can reduce the time surgeons spend in an operating room.

One way to use VR in training is through an Osso VR simulator. This system allows orthopaedic residents to practice surgery on virtual patients using hand controllers that mimic real medical instruments.

Osso VR has been used in studies to train residents to perform various surgeries. In a study done at UCLA, trainees trained with Osso VR scored 10 points better on an objective structured assessment of technical skill than those taught traditionally.


Most surgical training is still based on apprenticeship, where trainees receive guidance from their mentors but can only learn if they are allowed to practice skills. This can become frustrating because physicians are often busy and unable to offer timely feedback, preventing residents from advancing their learning.

Some tools can help train residents to be better surgeons, including telementoring and video-based learning. However, these techniques are not yet widely used in surgical training. 

Blended learning is an educational technique in surgical training that combines face-to-face teaching with online education. This combination can improve learning outcomes and increase the level of knowledge gained.

Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of blended learning in various medical disciplines. However, there are few studies evaluating its use in surgical training.

We conducted a study to evaluate the overall assessment and effectiveness of a web-based blended learning conception, the Unified Patient Project (UPP), for medical students rotating on an otolaryngology internship (ENT tertiary). The UPP replaced weekly lecturing of case studies.

Our results suggest that the UPP can significantly improve students’ overall assessment of otolaryngology training and lead to greater knowledge gain. Specifically, compared to the comparison group, students in the experimental group demonstrated higher levels of subjective competency (LGs) and objective knowledge (MCQs).