Surgical Education: Principle and Practice for the Future

Dr. Carlos Chacon

November 10, 2022

Surgical Education: Principle and Practice for the Future

Surgical education needs a theoretical basis. While most educational platforms are excellent in providing general knowledge about human anatomy and general principles, they lack the specific nuances that need to be addressed during surgery. In addition, these platforms fail to focus on specific techniques used by individual surgeons.

Surgical education needs a theoretical basis.

Surgical education has historically relied on the apprenticeship model, producing many generations of fine surgeons. However, current challenges and the costs of surgical education are forcing the surgical profession to consider alternative training methods. Surgical education must include a theoretical basis for the future, whether through new technologies or more intensive training.

The world of surgery is changing rapidly. Duty-hour restrictions and advances in scientific knowledge are increasing demands on surgical residents. In addition, time constraints limit the development of expertise. As a result, surgical education must evolve to meet these demands. In this regard, adult learning theory can help surgical education programs improve their training programs.

A remote learning model is one option for future-oriented surgical education. This model uses video-based learning to supplement face-to-face teaching. It has a successful history in non-surgical training.

Computer-simulated systems are essential for robotic surgery training.

As robotic surgery gains popularity, practical training is vital to ensure surgeons can use the new technology properly. This is especially true for new surgeons who aren’t familiar with the technology and those with extensive experience in open and laparoscopic surgery. A computer-simulated system can provide a realistic platform for practice that is less expensive than a virtual surgical environment.

Computer-simulated systems enable trainees to gain the technical skills and proficiency required to perform complex robotic procedures. In addition, they provide an opportunity to evaluate their progress against predetermined benchmarks. Using a computer-simulated system is an integral part of robotic surgery training. The immersive simulation experience requires trainees to perform new coordination and neural tasks.

Computer-simulated systems can provide training in a realistic environment for novice and experienced surgeons. The robot can be programmed to mimic various surgical scenarios that allow the surgeon to refine his skills. In addition, procedural-specific simulations can track performance metrics and be performed independently or with guidance. In this way, they are a flexible educational tool that can provide detailed instruction for novice users and provide a valuable practice environment for surgeons with years of experience.


Mentorship is an essential part of a surgeon’s professional development. Mentors have several roles, including directing an individual’s professional growth, teaching the field fundamentals, and providing performance feedback. These roles are best fulfilled when the mentor has a specialized interest or skill.

Mentors are valuable resources for surgical trainees and should be available at all stages of their training. Mentoring enhances motivation, engagement, and work performance. The RACS has advocated for mentoring across the surgical educational process, from pre-registration through post-registration training. It has facilitated mentoring sessions over the last few years and reviewed several other medical colleges’ mentoring programs. It has developed a mentoring resource and toolkit targeted at Trainees, International Medical Graduates, and Fellows.

Mentors are often generous with their time and resources, providing information and advice. They are committed to improving the quality of patient care by empowering mentees. They may even buy equipment for mentees with their own money. Mentors also provide value beyond the regular mentoring sessions. They follow up on patient concerns, offer consultations and help them through complex cases.

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on surgical training

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the surgical community in several ways. Elective surgery was reduced, and the number of surgical cases declined. Emergency and elective surgeries were particularly affected, but the impact was not uniform. Surgical departments were often at less than 100% capacity, and delays in patient care were common. One primary concern was that the COVID-19 pandemic would impact surgeons’ training, so surgical educators responded with new strategies to minimize the impact.

During the pandemic, hospitals could not provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to surgical trainees, which impacted learning opportunities. Additionally, due to the lack of resources, only the most essential personnel were allowed to wear PPE. This restricted the time in which surgical education programs could take place. As a result, many programs transitioned to virtual learning, journal clubs, case discussions, and small group teaching sessions. Some programs also implemented simulation laboratories. Residents noted that these virtual learning opportunities improved their clinical training experience. They also noted the increased participation of faculty members and the flexibility of virtual teaching.

However, the long-term effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been entirely determined. These suggestions must be assessed to determine if they successfully improve surgical education.