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09.01.2019 | Original Article

A robotic teaching session: separating tool from technique to emphasize a cognitive focused teaching environment

Journal of Robotic Surgery
Courtney A. Green, Patricia S. O’Sullivan, Hueylan Chern


Most robotic curriculum requires simulation on a console prior to operative exposure. This practice does not permit experiencing the physical collisions with the robotic tools, which occurs during surgery. We designed and evaluated an innovative curriculum to address cognitive components and trouble-shoot robotic collisions when the surgeon lacks haptic feedback. We adapted our previous curriculum, designed to teach and document proficiency of robotic docking and instrument exchange, to include robotic collisions. Participants received a 10-min, didactic presentation describing finger grips, internal and external collisions, and instruction on how to trouble-shoot each type. Residents worked in pairs, one at the console and the other at bedside, to complete two simulation exercises. Participants manipulated the robot to determine how best to resolve the situations. Residents completed retrospective post-course surveys and instructors completed a final survey. For comparison, non-participants, PGY-matched surgical trainees, also completed a survey. All participants demonstrated proficiency in docking and instrument exchange. Compared to pre-session, post-session knowledge and confidence improved in five domains reflecting session objectives (p < 0.05). Participants could list and troubleshoot collisions more than the non-participant matched peers (p < 0.05). Instructors supported the additional collision components, but noted learners needed more time. Two of three non-participants expressed interest in a teaching session to address these components. Collisions occur using robotic technology and rarely get addressed in surgical training. We describe an opportunity for surgeons to trouble-shoot robotic collisions in a safe, simulated environment. This easily transferable curriculum represents one of the first industry-independent robotic teaching sessions for surgical trainees.

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