Surgical Simulator Training for Plastic Surgery Residents around the World

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Access to surgical care around the world is a limited commodity in critical demand.1 Plastic surgeons have a longstanding tradition of delivering expert care to underserved populations through global surgical aid organizations. These surgical missions are able to provide life-changing surgical corrections for children and adults born with a wide variety of congenital and acquired deformities.
Unfortunately, these efforts fall far short of meeting the global surgical burden that exists. One of the many barriers to local surgical care is the limited number of surgeons trained to carry out complex reconstructions in remote areas. During surgical aid trips, collaborations and educational interchanges are forged during the span of the mission. However, focused, long-term training for local surgeons is often limited.2
Educational resources mark a significant barrier to achieving improved access to surgical care. Textbooks and journal articles by experts in plastic surgery have been a longstanding resource for surgical trainees, but these are often cost-prohibitive in developing nations. Three trends are working to provide relief for this need within plastic and reconstructive surgery. First, the development and success of PRS Global Open will increase the reach of important plastic surgery publications by providing globally accessible articles. Second, the digital revolution has led to mass appeal by trainees to consume their information by means of less costly, more portable e-books and online publications. Third, free online videos and educational resources are a growing avenue for the dissemination of educational material.
Technological advances have garnered tremendous interest in developing surgical simulation for resident training.3–5 Previous reports have focused on the development and implementation of training modules, and their validation as effective tools. With a wide variety of training tools available, surgical simulation training can enhance training curricula, surgical decision-making, feedback, and technical performance.6,7 Given the high cost of developing sophisticated training modules, access to such training modules is often sparse in developing nations.
The development of plastic surgery simulation videos that are freely available over the Internet aims to contribute to the need for global surgical education resources. The creation of these surgical simulations aims to provide the trainee with a step-by-step guide of the key operative steps in complex craniofacial reconstructions.8,9 With the added benefit of intraoperative videos and narration highlighting each phase, the viewer is able to develop an understanding of each operative step and what they should aim to achieve intraoperatively.
These resources are a culmination of over a decade of work, with close collaboration between academic, philanthropic, and industry partners to create a truly interactive virtual surgical environment. We believe that the dissemination and use of such resources will allow for more readily accessible sophisticated surgical education in resource-constrained areas and provide a robust component of craniofacial surgical education globally.
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