What Clementines Can Teach Surgeons
June 27, 2012
Pamela Andreatta, a medical educator at the University of Michigan Medical School, knows all about how people learn. And lately, she’s been spending a lot of time scrutinizing how residents are taught to do minimally invasive surgery.
while there are surgical simulators on the market, including high-tech digital systems offering a virtual reality, she believes the skills crucial to laparoscopic surgery might be better taught with something as simple as a clementine.
The idea came to Andreatta after a colleague in gynecologic oncology asked whether she could come up with a simulation to teach the delicate task of removing lymph nodes, something done to minimize the spread of cancer.
In all, 41 people dissected clementines.
The minimally invasive surgery specialists scored the highest, by far.
Residents and nonsurgical faculty scored significantly lower.
Medical students, with little or no surgical experience, fared worst.
The results, Andreatta says, confirm that the clementine is a suitable model for training.
Faculty surgeons backed up that assertion, remarking on the similarities between the simulation and actual surgery.
The clementine is in fact just one of several dozen low-cost simulations
Andreatta has developed for teaching minimally invasive surgery. Another uses colorful foam shapes purchased from a craft store.