Although a majority of surgical residents plan to incorporate robotics in practice, 80% cited time commitment as a barrier to completing a nonmandatory robotics curriculum, according to a survey published online in the American Journal of Surgery.
Most surgery residents agree that robotics training is important, but most academic institutions have not yet established a mandatory training program, wrote Vernissia Tam, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh and her colleagues (
To determine resident attitudes about robotics and the impact of a robotics curriculum, the researchers surveyed 48 general surgery residents in 2014-2015 and 49 residents in 2016-2017 at a single academic center. Overall, 98% and 96% of the two groups, respectively, reported high interest improving robotic skills, and more than two-thirds reported plans to use robotics in their practices.
The introduction of a voluntary, structured robotics program yielded significant improvements in the percentage of residents using both a robotic backpack simulator (from 18% to 39%) and an inanimate box trainer (increased from 20% to 41%).
However, of 60 unique residents between the two survey time points, only 24 began the robotics curriculum (40%) and only 11 (18%) completed it. In a follow-up survey of residents who had not yet completed the robotics training, 80% said that “time away from clinical responsibilities and/or research was the most commonly cited barrier to curriculum completion,” Dr. Tam and her associates noted.
The study was limited in part by the use of data from a single center over a short period of time, but “we believe these results provide a broad needs assessment for a structured robotics program and identify barriers to implementing a novel curriculum,” the researchers wrote. Many health professionals argue that a competence-based program, rather than time-based, would be more effective and accessible to students, so “development of an inanimate deliberate practice system with weekly opportunities is a viable avenue to increase technical skills and learn surgical procedures,” they said.
The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose. The study was supported in part by an Intuitive Surgical Education Grant.
SOURCE: Tam V et al.