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Medical residents can now practice virtual operations before they ever touch a live patient

Crain's New York Business featured HSS vice chairman of Education and Academic Affairs Mathias P. Bostrom, MD; sports medicine surgeon and director of the sports medicine fellowship Anil S. Ranawat, MD; manager of the Bioskills Education Lab Justin Dufresne, CST; orthopedic residents Cynthia A. Kahlenberg, MD and Ameer Elbuluk, MD; in a feature article about innovations in medical education at HSS.

According to the article, virtual reality is emerging as a high-tech solution to train medical residents.

Dr. Bostrom said that VR simulations could prove particularly useful in many procedure-based areas of medicine, such as anesthesia, to introduce new physicians to the steps needed to complete a task.

"Certain industries such as aviation have been doing simulation for many decades. It's been relatively late in coming into medicine and surgery," Dr. Bostrom added.

The article reported that HSS residents have been operating on cadavers and artificial bones for practice for years.  

"Cadavers are still the gold standard of how to teach young surgeons," noted Dr. Ranawat.

"Right now [VR] is just another instrument or tool to give younger residents—not older residents because older residents are going to use more cadaver and live surgery—the basic surgical skill sets, such as understanding anatomy, tactile feel and understanding the steps of the procedure," explained Dr. Ranawat.

"The fact that I can come in here and it will walk me through it step by step with the instrumentation, it's positive," said Dr. Elbuluk, a first-year resident, who is able to use this tool to get experience before going into the operating room.

Older residents, such as Dr. Kahlenberg, a fourth-year resident, noted that VR tools do not yet have the capability to vary joints such as the knee.  

"Every human knee is a little bit different, and there's variability in the soft tissues and the feel of the soft tissue," said Dr. Kahlenberg. "I think it has potential to be helpful in the future, but it has a long way to go before it becomes a realistic training tool."

Crain's also reported on another simulator tool in the Bioskills lab that helps train residents on arthroscopy specifically.

Read the full article at Crainsnewyork.com. This also appeared in the August 20, 2018 print issue as well as Crain's Health Pulse and Crain's Morning 10.

Additional Coverage: ModernHealthcare.com