Future Surgeons Gain Early Hands-on Experience with Gastrointestinal Surgery Training Devices and Procedures

11/7/2022 Beth Hart

Written by Beth Hart

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Aspiring surgeons at Carle Illinois College of Medicine are gaining advanced, early training experience with procedures and devices used in treating patients with gastrointestinal (GI) problems. A recent hands-on learning session also provided Carle Illinois physician-innovators with rare insight into the workings of endoscopic equipment used in common GI procedures. 

<em>GI endoscopy tools allow surgeons to visualize hollow internal organs.</em>
GI endoscopy tools allow surgeons to visualize hollow internal organs.

During the special gastrointestinal training session organized by the Surgery Interest Group at Carle Illinois College of Medicine, medical students in their first through third years of training gained early experience with endoscopy equipment, tools that use fiber-optics and a long tube-like device to allow surgeons to visualize the inside of a hollow organ, such as the colon. The training was held in Carle Health’s Digestive Health Institute endoscopy operating suite.

Student organizer Claire Landewee (CI MED Class of 2025) says through this unique training experience, she and her CI MED student peers were able gain a feel for using some of the tools used in performing procedures to investigate problems in the esophagus, stomach, colon, bile duct, liver, and pancreas, including the Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedure. The tools were coupled with special skills trainer boxes for a next-level learning experience. “Typically, these training boxes are only used in fellowship training (training that follows medical residency) to teach gastrointestinal fellows standard endoscopy techniques,” Landewee said

<em>Megan Lim, (CI MED Class of 2026) gained hands-on experience with GI endoscopy equipment and procedures under the guidance of Dr. Patricia Henry. Photo by Kaden Rawson.</em>
Megan Lim (CI MED Class of 2026) gained hands-on experience with GI endoscopy equipment and procedures under the guidance of Dr. Patricia Henry. Photo by Kaden Rawson.

Landewee, who has a special interest in pursuing a career in gastroenterology and surgery, says this first experience of holding and using the endoscopy equipment augments and reinforces what students are learning in the classroom and by shadowing clinicians. “Hands-on learning directly allows students to experience benefits, drawbacks, challenges, and limitations of devices particularly related to ergonomics, visualization, and application/integration of technology and automation” Students were able to complete one of several common skills, such as removing a polyp.

Additionally, Carle Illinois physician-innovators gained insight into the inner workings of endoscopy tools, using the Olympus Skeleton Scope, which has clear sections of the control handle that allow for visualization of the device’s inner mechanical components. “Because of our unique student population, with many student having engineering backgrounds, I advocated for Olympus to bring this skeleton scope. This allowed students to appreciate how the device works and inspire innovative ideas for improvement or application to other medical fields,” Landewee explained.

Drs. Patricia Henry and Ahmad Al-Taee provided expert learning guidance during the training. Landewee says CI MED students may partner with Olympus representatives to repeat the training in the future.

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This story was published November 7, 2022.