Included in the center is a virtual reality personal computer lab that will house several workstations, where medical students and residents can practice everything from starting an intravenous line to performing laparoscopy and endoscopy. This equipment is programmed with built-in "haptics," realistically simulating the feel of the procedure.
"The haptics give the equipment the real feel of having an actual laparoscope, for example, in a patient's abdomen," Dr. Reichman says.
Other virtual reality devices will be used to train residents and fellows in the skills of upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. This computerized equipment is programmable and allows training for specific procedures, such as detecting and removing tumors or arteriovenous malformations. Endovascular training devices will teach residents and fellows cardiac catheterization, angioplasty, and stenting procedures.
A surgical skills lab and a microsurgical lab will allow medical students and residents to train in a variety of vascular, general, orthopaedic, neurosurgery, and other surgical techniques. The surgical skills lab will allow students and residents to learn procedures on cadavers and animal tissues. The large surgical skills lab will feature nine stations, each with the ability to hold a cadaver. The microsurgical lab is a six-station facility for human or animal tissue used for specialized microsurgical training such as ear, nose, and throat; hand; and plastic surgery.
"Both of these areas feature computer access, and 50-inch LCD monitors to observe real-time procedures for synchronized learning and for wrap-up after the session," Dr. Reichman says.
The new space promises to be a unique facility.
"No one else has done what we are doing with this center – creating a complete training center to serve diverse needs of the Medical School community and the larger medical community around us," says Dr. Brent King, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine and head of the SCSC steering committee.
"This center is different from the others because we have all of it incorporated into one space. We have the virtual reality training, the surgical skill training, the microsurgical skills training, cadaver facilities, the operating rooms, several other labs, and the standardized patient program – it's got everything," Dr. Reichman adds.
Mobile equipment and multiuse space will foster the SCSC's functionality, appealing to a wide-range of users beyond the scope of physicians in training.
"We want this center to be inclusive – if we're going to make this investment, we want it to be used all of the time," Dr. King adds.
The SCSC will be used as a site for continuing medical education (CME) courses for Medical School faculty and community physicians. It also will be a place for testing new medical devices and equipment, providing new types of training, and for research.
"It will be very nice to be able to host numerous CME courses in all medical and surgical disciplines here – and our faculty won't have to travel," Dr. Reichman says. "We'll now have a facility in our own backyard, so to speak."
The health science center has committed $4 million for build-out costs of the SCSC, yet the total project is estimated to cost $15 million. The remainder of the project will be funded through generous donors.
The Medical School's Office of Development is seeking funds and in-kind gifts to outfit the SCSC with the latest technology and has already raised more than $900,000. The Vivian L. Smith Foundation recently gave $250,000 to name and finance a surgical simulation operating room.
"We're looking to get in-kind donations and discounts from vendors and are asking donors, foundations, and alumni for gifts," Dr. Reichman says, adding that naming opportunities for the entire center and rooms within the center are available.
For more information on the SCSC and how to make a contribution, contact Eric F. Reichman, Ph.D., M.D., medical director of the SCSC at Eric.F.Reichman@uth.tmc.edu.
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