Through generous donations made by Covidien and Memorial Medical Center, the SIU Surgical Skills Lab opened its doors in May 2000. At that time, it was one of only a handful of centers across the country designed specifically for training surgical residents. The skills lab supplements the traditional training SIU surgery residents receive when they learn procedures in the operating room, working alongside full time faculty and the community’s surgeons.
“With advancing technologies, the cost of the operating room has made the methodical, high quality teaching with a patient present increasingly more difficult and expensive,” said Dr. Gary Dunnington, original director of the SIU Surgical Skills Lab. “Airlines have been doing this kind of training for years. Pilots often spend hundreds of hours in front of a flight simulator before ever making their first flight and now our residents will have a similar experience, using a high tech model of a human torso, abdomen, or hand.”
Dr. Dunnington added he is very pleased with the cooperation he has received in the creation of this facility. “It wouldn’t have been possible without sizable contributions from Memorial Medical Center who provided the space and all the basic elements including VR simulators, workstations and computers. In addition to Covidien multiple medical companies donate instruments and equipment for training in numerous labs.
Since September 2000, all 19 of the school’s Department of Surgery first-year surgical residents began using a new curriculum to prepare them for their experiences in the operating room. This curriculum we call “Boot Camp.” In addition to general surgery, residents from other specialties use the lab, including vascular, orthopaedics, otolaryngology, plastics, urology, emergency medicine, OB/GYN, Internal medicine, Family Medicine and Pediatric Medicine .
Primary care residents and third-year medical students from SIU learn basic surgical skills like suturing, knot tying and Wound Care at the center as well. Surgical supply companies set up their equipment and have their personnel provide training in new technology for residents, faculty and the community’s practicing surgeons in both “wet and dry lab” settings. There is a strong emphasis on laparoscopy and endoscopy, both rapidly growing technologies used by nearly all surgical specialties.
The School of Medicine has 75 residents currently training in Springfield in seven surgical residencies – General, Orthopaedics, Plastics, Otolaryngology, Urology, Emergency Medicine, and Vascular. They are based at both Memorial Medical Center and St. John’s Hospital and are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
The SIU faculty and the SIU Surgical Skills Lab assisted other Surgical Educators in developing a National Curriculum in hope that other residency programs would utilize the curriculum for their Surgical Skills Labs. The ACS/APDS National Surgical Skills Curriculum has developed three phases. Phase I includes basic surgical skills designed with first and second year residents in mind. The skills included in the Phase I curriculum were identified by the National Simulation Committee because they are important for junior residents and cross at least two specialties.