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SOWELA first in Louisiana to integrate new VR surgeries in class

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 9:59 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surgical technology jobs are expected to grow 7 percent between now and 2029.

However, when the stay at home order paused clinicals, surgical technology program coordinator for SOWELA Technical Community College, Amy Broussard says, they had to find a way to teach students some of the hardest surgeries virtually.

“I was in a panic mode because I was trying to find something that we could use to able to complete their clinical courses, to complete their program to enter their workforce, to graduate on time.”

She stumbled upon the medical simulator program known as “Periopsim,” which provided to be the perfect solution.

“I was very pleased with the system because it can be used across different platforms. It can be used at home with the resources they have. Windows, Android, iPads, phones. Then the company said we have a VR system.”

The VR version of the system transforms a classroom into an operating room.

“Right now, we’re using it as a performance indicator. It’s not a grade. We’re watching the trends. We’re identifying the issues they may have early and trying to fix them before they go on a clinical site.”

The program allows students to feel comfortable assisting with an operation. Student Baylee McBride says she gained confidence in the operating room thanks to a surgery she had practiced the week prior with the VR system.

“It helped me so much because a lot of the steps that they were doing, I knew exactly what they were trying to do. I could identify it, and then I actually was able to anticipate what instrument they needed next. If they asked for an instrument, I knew exactly which one it was and it’s dark in the OR and you can’t see so it helped me with that too.”

Broussard says McBride’s experience is exactly why they’re utilizing the system now in their curriculum.

“For her to walk in and scrub into a surgery and say, I knew what instruments were going to come next. I mean, that’s the most exciting thing. That doesn’t come this early in the program.”

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