Surgical Training: Swiss Innovation Agency Innosuisse has awarded a grant of CHF 12 million over the next four years in support of the “PROFICIENCY” project for surgical simulation. The project initiates a paradigm shift in practical training in surgery: away from primary training in the operating room, towards standardized and proficiency-based surgical training curricula.
Thanks to technical advances in virtual and augmented reality, many surgical procedures can already be simulated with lifelike accuracy. However, practical training still frequently occurs in the operating room. The disadvantage of this form of training became obvious during the Covid 19 pandemic: surgical training was largely restricted or not possible at all in most hospitals during this time.
“With the ‘PROFICIENCY’ project, we want to advance simulator-based continuing education in surgery,” explains Prof. Bruno Schmied, M.D., Chief of Surgery at the Cantonal Hospital of St. Gallen. “The innovative continuing education program – analogous to the training and continuing education of pilots on flight simulators – will decisively improve surgical continuing education in open and minimally invasive surgery and initiate the desired paradigm shift to competence-oriented and didactically high-quality simulator-supported training.”
As a first decisive step, the project will design a modular curriculum that is aligned with the requirements of surgical societies and integrated on a digitally accessible learning platform. This standardized, evidence-based and performance-oriented training program will be taught using the latest didactic methods and empower surgeons to acquire skills through self-paced learning.
In a second major step, the consortium will develop innovative training tools for simulating different surgical scenarios, ranging from online virtual reality simulation, augmented box trainers, high-end simulators, to augmented-reality-enabled open surgery and immersive remote operation room participation.
“This flagship innovation project brings together the necessary medical, pedagogical and technical expertise to create the most advanced and comprehensive surgical training curriculum ever developed,” said Stefan Tuchschmid, PhD, co-CEO and founder of VirtaMed.
The consortium of project partners includes the Cantonal Hospital of St.Gallen, Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), the University of Zurich with Balgrist University Hospital, ETH Zurich and Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), as well as the companies VirtaMed AG, Microsoft Schweiz GmbH , ORamaVR S.A. and Atracsys LLC.