Training in GI takes many forms

Complicated and invasive procedures require the confidence that comes from experience. And that experience can only come from instruction and training that replicates as closely as possible what the clinician will actually encounter. In the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, multiple opportunities exist for this important work to occur.

Sometimes this training happens with the assistance of extramural support. Recently, a representative of Boston Scientific spent the morning in a procedure room in the Clifton Digestive Health Center to offer some hands-on guidance on a portable endoscopy trainer. Providers of all stripes got to take turns trying out some of the bells, whistles, and time-savers they might not have noticed before.

The above portable trainer is useful for mastering certain techniques, but for a holistic experience, nothing comes near the experience that comes from using the endoscopy simulator. Though one exists on the main campus at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, another is located at the VA Medical Center in an education lab.

This device, which can simulate both endoscopy and bronchoscopy, provides hundreds of variations that a gastroenterologist or a pulmonologist can expect to encounter. Dr. Adrian Holm, GI Fellowship Director, demonstrated a fraction of the simulator’s capabilities, programming upper and lower GI scope situations.

Though it may not look very much like a person, the blue figure on the table can replicate most of the experience, offering on-screen views from the inserted camera or GPS-like views of exactly where and in what direction a scope is positioned. It can even replicate sounds of distress should one’s scope take one twist too many.

Beyond just offering experience to a trainee in learning a skill they will use thousands of times throughout their career, the simulator also includes the ability to learn about less-common procedures such as endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). This type of training, Dr. Holm explained, is often not offered to fellows unless they pursue a fourth-year of further specialization. This simulator, however, is available any time to any fellow at any stage, so they can gain a more robust understanding of the nature of these techniques.

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