Mobile operating room gives UNMC training edge

Residents — or physicians in training — get exposed to a lot of different surgeries as they work toward being seasoned and competent surgeons. It means a lot of hours getting the right kind of experiences.

But sometimes, certain complicated cases are uncommon during their training. This is where labs and simulation play a key role in preparing residents for any situation when they go into practice after graduation.

Earlier this month, faculty from the UNMC Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery hosted a two-day advanced course that provided residents the experience they need for certain complicated cases. They learned the latest techniques to remove tumors or masses from the base of the skull that affect the ear and nerves of hearing.

Guest faculty from eight states who are leaders in the field joined UNMC to train 19 residents from otolaryngology-head and neck surgery (also known as ear, nose and throat specialists) and neurosurgery, as well as residents from academic medical centers in Missouri and Iowa.

Residents outside Nebraska normally would have to travel to the coasts to receive a course of this kind, said Christie Barnes, M.D., assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery and director of resident education, who also serves as associate program director.

Funded by a grant, UNMC used a Mobile Operating Room Experience for the first time. It enabled the department to train more residents.

The lab, owned by Stryker, a medical technology company, is a 76-foot state-of-the-art semi-truck with expandable sides that make the lab 32-feet wide. Equipped like an operating room, the mobile lab features eight operating room stations.

UNMC also used the 10 stations in the department’s state-of-the-art labs on campus.

“UNMC is on the forefront of resident education and is dedicated to training future ear, nose and throat physicians to be the best in the field,” Dr. Barnes said. “UNMC offers five courses a year in addition to our regular curriculum. This is far more than any regional or national programs.

“UNMC’s goal is to become a regional leader in resident education. This is one step closer to achieving the goal,” she said.

Jason Talmadge, M.D., resident in the UNMC Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, said faculty put on fantastic education courses that benefit residents throughout the year.

“Bringing the mobile dissection lab increased available space to allow nationally known otolaryngologists and neurosurgeons to also attend this advanced skull base surgery course. It was great to learn alongside all these experienced surgeons.”