The anatomy team at BSMS have been awarded a grant to create and deliver surgical training using a range of innovative means that include live streaming, virtual reality and 360 cameras.
The grant of £344,000 from Health Education England South East (HEESE) will allow the medical school to work with partners in the NHS to develop and deliver high-quality, innovative surgical training, which has been largely restricted since Covid-19 began last year.
Professor Claire Smith, Head of Anatomy at BSMS, said: “Covid-19 has had a massive impact on practical training for surgical staff, with many providers having to close or restrict activities during the pandemic. However, the need for training for surgical staff remains as great as ever. This grant will enable us to deliver vital surgical training through live streaming, virtual reality (VR) and 360 cameras, and to create a suite of surgical training resources available to surgeons around the world.”
The award of the grant follows on from a highly successful week-long course in September 2020, where 360 surgeons from 26 countries joined the ‘virtual reality in medicine and surgery’ course at BSMS. Dr Jag Dhanda, Consultant Maxillofacial/Head and Neck Reconstructive Surgeon at Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, presented the course, demonstrating surgical procedures on cadavers with VR, or 360 cameras via live stream. Surgeons were able to view the surgical techniques on cadavers through virtual reality headsets that allowed them to choose the camera angle perspective they wanted by moving their heads.
Dr Jag Dhanda presenting via livestream in the anatomy suite at BSMS.
Dr Dhanda said: “Covid-19 has forced us to re-evaluate our surgical teaching techniques. A real positive to this has been the success of using a readily available technology like VR, which provides trainees with a much more immersive experience. Working with the amazing gift of individuals who donate their bodies for medical training in the BSMS anatomy laboratory via live streaming and VR has allowed us to develop a creative and highly effective approach to surgical teaching when it’s just not possible to gather a group of people together to learn such skills.”
The team will plan and deliver a spectrum of courses to meet the training needs of a range of levels and specialties of surgical training. Alongside this, they will create a suite of high-quality surgical and anatomy resources, including VR and 360 videos that can be placed on a secure university, college and NHS servers to allow access for providing easy access to training and education on demand.