UAB’s 10,000 robotic-surgery count spurs more intensive training -
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UAB’s 10,000 robotic-surgery count spurs more intensive training

UAB Medicine Robotic Surgery Program. da Vinci robot, performing surgery with tiny incisions and minimal effect on surrounding healthy tissue, offering faster recovery time, less pain, little or no scarring, minimal blood loss, and a shorter hospital stay; 2016 Academic Session on robotic-assisted surgery at UAB.

In April, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) surpassed the 10,000 robotic surgeries mark, a feat the university says helps make it the leader in robotic surgery volume in the country. For UAB Medicinesurgeons , a collaborative spirit and the willingness to work together across many disciplines helped push the hospital over this milestone.

“What makes our approach unique is that a patient may need to have rectal surgery, while at the same time part of his bladder may need to be removed,” said Jeffrey Nix, M.D., assistant professor in UAB’s Department of Urology and associate scientist at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Instead of having to have two surgeries that require separate and challenging recovery periods, we can complete both in one surgery through minimally invasive methods that speed up recovery time, cause less pain and leave minimal scaring. Across departments, we are constantly communicating and working together to deliver the best care possible.”

UAB’s robotic surgery division includes a kind training to which only UAB residents have exposure, the school says. In noticing that most residents had access to robotic training only once a year if at all, Kenneth Kim, M.D., associate professor in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, was tasked with revamping the existing robotic surgery training curriculum.

“Surgery in its basic form is a combination of skill and technique, used in a logical fashion to complete a surgery safely and successfully,” Kim said. “It’s critical that, in addition to learning the ‘how’ of procedure basics, residents are learning the ‘how’ in surgical tools and techniques. The how — in conjunction with consistent simulation to training — is what enables residents to become comfortable with and proficient in robotic surgery.”

Kim’s revisions to the gynecologic resident training gave residents one-on-one training sessions with him on a quarterly basis. Through this, he was able to track data over a year’s time and quantifiably show that, with individualized attention, his residents’ skillsets improved tremendously — enough to convince Intuitive Surgical, the maker of the daVinci Surgical System, to provide UAB with its own robotic surgery simulator with updated and exclusive simulation software that will be used to train residents across multiple surgical disciplines.

With a shared mindset that resident education needed to have a strong focus on robotic surgery training, surgeons across many fields have come together to work toward a common goal of advancing curriculum for residents of all years and specialties.

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