SensAble Technologies

Surgeons should practice on computers, not people

February 18, 2010: 10:00 AM ET

Pilots train on flight simulators, so why do physicians learn only by doing?

By Curt Rawley, Chairman and CEO, SensAble Technologies

Rawley: Pilots train on simulators, why not surgeons? Photo: SensAble

Rawley: Tech can help surgeons develop a human touch. Photo: SensAble Technologies

Technology has transformed entire industries, from manufacturing and farming to media and marketing. So why has tech transformation eluded medicine, and medical education to be specific?

It's time we stop training doctors and surgeons in the same apprenticeship model that has been used for a hundred years. Despite many studies showing that surgeons need between 60 to 500 repetitions of a procedure to achieve proficiency, medical schools usually provide 10 to 20 repetitions on cadavers – with the rest of the training left up to supervised surgery.

Yet recent restrictions in allowed hospital hours mean that residents spend less time in patient encounters – and perhaps fall short of needed repetitions.  We make pilots log hours in flight simulators; we should make surgeons go through similar training. More

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