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News & Editorial

April 26, 2018

The growth of online surgical education

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An increasing amount of surgical education is becoming available online in blended and standalone formats. But is this a positive move? And what will the future look like for online surgical learning? Perhaps the most striking example of blended surgical education – where online and face-to-face teaching are combined – is the forthcoming change to the widely used ATLS training course.

Edition 10 of ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) is due to be fully rolled out in the UK from June 2018. In the new hybrid course, the face-to-face part has been reduced from three days to two, with some of the time formerly spent in lectures giving way to more interactive activity, including e-learning. Meanwhile, the hefty ATLS manual is being replaced with an online version.

The change to ATLS is being reflected in a rising number of surgical education courses – provided by the RCS and externally – that are using online material to supplement or partly replace face-to-face learning.

Online surgical education in a standalone format is also a growth area. This covers a range of material from static text, diagrams and photographs to videos and live content – including operations and webinars. Many now will read online journals rather than paper-based journals. It circumvents geographical constraints and is scalable, providing high-quality training to massive audiences. give the learner the opportunity to participate in real time.

RCS Education has recently launched the Postgraduate Certificate in Surgery, an online form of learning designed to complement the knowledge and skills that trainees are gaining in the workplace. The certificate – aimed at those in Foundation and Core Surgical Training – currently has 10 modules, which combine interactive learning and assessment and earn learners up to a total of 60 credits for a certificate at postgraduate level. The standard enrolment fee for the certificate is £400 (RCS members have a 10% discount).

The quality assurance and accreditation of online surgical education is an expanding area of the RCS’ work. For example, in April 2017 the RCS accredited Incision, an online platform with more than 200 stepby-step procedures using 3D simulation filming and a 3D anatomical model. And in July 2017 the RCS accredited OrthOracle, which is an online orthopaedic surgery platform for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) that provides stepwise overviews of operations by using still photographs accompanied with text and CPD assessment activities.

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Source: rcseng.ac.uk

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