Scottish surgeons to use digital simulation in training

Education programmes will also incorporate 3D-printed organs

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NHS Scotland is incorporating digital and physical simulation into its surgical training programme to enable trainees to develop key skills before coming face-to-face with patients.

Developed by the Scottish Surgical Simulation Collaborative – a joint group under the auspices of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and Edinburgh – the programme incorporates the use of 3D-printed organs and also allows aspiring surgeons to use digital programmes to practise ‘human factor’ skills such as teamwork, leadership, communication and decision-making. 

Dr Andrea Baker, clinical skills manager at educational health board NHS Education for Scotland (NES), said the simulation programme “aligns with the NES five-year skills and simulation strategy”.

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“Our plan is to enhance and expand the use of simulation, eventually for all trainees in medical specialities, recognising the powerful role simulation has in creating a reliable, sustainable and flexible workforce for NHS Scotland,” she said.

Consultant surgeon Professor Kenneth Walker said the use of simulation will enhance trainee surgeons’ learning by enabling them to perform complex procedures without having to wait for a patient to operate on.

“It’s a no-brainer that we should be using more simulation, but it needed proper integration into our training programmes,” he said. “Scotland has been the perfect setting to pull it off. It’s the lightbulb moments that are most exciting, as trainees learn profound things that they otherwise would have had to learn the long way, on the job.”

Scottish Government health secretary Humza Yousaf added that the use of simulation training is an “important component” in creating “the highly skilled workforce that we need”.


Sam Trendall

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