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Trauma surgical skills training course lands certification

Aug. 22, 2013, 9:17 AM

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is now certified as Tennessee’s only teaching site for an advanced trauma surgical skills training course offered at fewer than 50 hospitals worldwide.

Certified through the American College of Surgeons, the Advanced Surgical Skills for Exposure in Trauma (ASSET) course uses simulated human models to teach surgical exposure of anatomic structures that, when injured, may pose threat to life or limb.

The one-day, cadaver-based course provides an overview of surgical techniques for the most challenging of injuries that individual surgeons may only see once per year.

Course founder and retired U.S. Air Force Col. Mark Bowyer, M.D., professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University, led members of Vanderbilt’s Trauma faculty and fellowship program through the course in the Gross Anatomy Lab, and upon completion approved Vanderbilt as a course site.

Timothy Nunez, M.D., associate professor of Surgery, will serve as course director, with Richard Miller, M.D., chief of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care and professor of Surgery, and Mayur Patel, M.D., assistant professor of Surgery, as certified instructors.

As a newly designated teaching site, Vanderbilt Trauma fellows and senior-level surgical residents will take the course as part of their training, as well as acute-care surgeons throughout the region who want advanced training on how to rapidly expose and react to complex injuries.

“The exposures taught in this course are unusual injuries we don’t see on a daily basis that require rapid evaluation and specific techniques to control bleeding in difficult areas of the body, such as the subclavian artery, the vena cava or iliac arteries,” Miller said. “Cumulatively, as a level-1 trauma center, we see a fair amount of these exposures, but as individual surgeons, we may only see one per year.”

Nunez, who first took this course before an Army deployment and has been a certified ASSET course instructor since 2010, said, “when you are pressed for time and have an actual patient, this training helps the surgeon be able to do their job faster and better.”

In 2012, chief residents nationwide reported seeing, over five years, only 2.4 cases that involved major vascular exposures for trauma, 0.3 cases of neck exposure for trauma and 0.0 brachial artery exposure for trauma.

“This [data] shows that simulation training for penetrative vascular injuries is needed, and this is something residents across the country want,” Nunez said. “Being able to offer this course in-house gives our residents and fellows an advantage and also furthers Vanderbilt’s ability to be the premier resource for trauma care and education in the region.”

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