The objectives of this study were to understand how cadaveric simulation impacts learning in orthopedic residents, why it is a useful training tool, and how skills learnt in the simulated environment translate into the workplace.
This is a qualitative research study using in-depth, semistructured interviews with orthopedic residents who underwent an intensive cadaveric simulation training course.
The study was conducted at the University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire, a tertiary care center with integrated cadaveric training laboratory in England, United Kingdom.
Orthopedic surgery residents in the intervention group of a randomized controlled trial comparing intensive cadaveric simulation training with standard “on the job” training were invited to participate. Eleven of 14 eligible residents were interviewed (PGY 3-6, 8 male and 3 female).
Learning from cadaveric simulation can be broadly categorized into intrinsic, surgeon-driven factors, and extrinsic environmental factors. Intrinsic factors include participant ability to “buy-in” to the simulation exercise, willingness to push one’s own learning boundaries in a “safe space” and take out on resident experience and self-reported confidence, with the greatest learning gains seen at around the PGY4 stage in individuals who reported low preintervention operative confidence. Extrinsic factors included; the opportunity to perform operations in their entirety without external pressures or attending “take-over,” leading to subjective improvement in participant operative fluency and confidence. The intensive supervision of subspecialist attending surgeons giving real-time performance feedback, tips and tricks, and the opportunity to practice unusual approaches was highly valued by participants, as was paired learning with alternating roles as primary surgeon/assistant and multidisciplinary involvement of scrub-staff and radiographers. Cadaveric simulation added educational value beyond that obtained in low-fidelity simulation training by “stirring into practice” and “becoming through doing.” In providing ultrarealistic representation of the space, ritualism, and costuming of the operating theater, cadaveric simulation training also enabled the development of a range of nontechnical skills and sociocultural “nontechnical” lessons of surgery.
Cadaveric simulation enhances learning in both technical and nontechnical skills in junior orthopedic residents within a single training package. Direct transfer of skills learnt in the simulation training to the real-world operating theater, with consequent patient benefit, was reported. Cadaveric simulation in the UK training system of orthopedics may be of greatest utility at around the PGY 4 stage, at which point operative fluency, independence, and confidence can be rapidly improved in the cadaveric laboratory, to enable the attainment of competence in index trauma operations.

Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.