We really enjoyed sitting down to connect with Megan Graham, CST/RST Surgical Technologist Program, Primary Instructor at Renton Technical College in Renton, WA.
Read all the way to the end to see some valuable tips she shares!
How long have you been using PeriopSim?
I believe we've been working with PeriopSim since early 2021
How did you find out about PeriopSim?
I found out about it through our Dean, we spoke about it in a team meeting with myself, the Program Director and our Dean. We all thought it was an excellent idea and it came at the perfect time, since we were looking at something to boost our program more into the 21st century. It was an easy yes - so we decided to get a meeting booked and see what it looks like, and we did just that. We immediately thought it would be a good thing for our program.
Did COVID play a role in that decision making?
Absolutely, it did. Because we went from full time in-person to a hybrid program. With that being said, we wanted students to be able to work on things from home and this actually brought the operating room to them. We did add more days in the skills lab, but everything else is didactic online. When our students came into the skills lab they were better prepared because they had material they could work on from home, which prior to 2020 we didn't have. It's incredible, I'm the biggest advocate.
What appealed to you the most about PeriopSim?
Since the pandemic we switched our program to a hybrid approach. It appealed to me because students could do it at home, and it was something they could work on to prepare themselves for the skills lab, which is our in person lab for clinical externship. When we're in the skills lab they're learning about the instruments and setting them up, but I feel like the biggest hang up was learning the instrument names. In class we don't get to instrument passing until the fourth quarter, so now they get to work from home on passing and anticipation during a procedure earlier than our students did in the past.
When I was a new Surgical Technologist, I was worried about my back table and focusing on passing the right instrument at the right time. I didn't know what they were doing with the instruments because I wasn't focusing on the field yet. What they did with that instrument I didn't know for at least a year until I got quicker and more comfortable. I was too focused on my back table and everything that I was in charge of. Now the students can actually anticipate the surgeon’s needs, giving them what they need before they need it, and giving them the right thing. It reduces anxiety.
Did you use grants or funding for the purchase of PeriopSim?
We did not, we used no special funding. It came right out of our Surgical Technology program budget.
How often do the students use PeriopSim, and how do you assign the modules?
For example, if we're working on general surgeries and minimally invasive surgeries, that's when those modules are assigned and they are due before we go into the skills lab. For the time period we are learning procedures like a laparoscopic cholecystectomy or hernia, or anything that we're going to practice in the skills lab, and if we're not going to practice it specifically in the skills lab but it's part of general, that's what we're learning and I assign the correlating PeriopSim modules.
Each module is worth 20 points. If they receive an A they get 20 points, if they receive a B they will get 15 points, a C they will receive 10 points and a D will be 5 out of 20. If they don't do the assigned module, they receive a zero for a missing assignment.
Since it is graded I recommend for them to do it until they get an A. I go over grading with the students and explain it to them. I explain to them how many times they have to do the module and what they're looking at in regards to speed and accuracy. At the end of the day they're in charge of their grades. The students choose to do it as many times or as little times as they want, but it will be reflected in the grade book.
How long is their assignment window?
It differs between modalities. For example, orthopedic has so much more to it so they get a little more time, typically two weeks to a month, depending on how many modules there are.
So what have you heard from your students regarding PeriopSim?
They think it's so cool and fun. A lot of people say it is like a video game. Even my part time Educator wants to go home and play PeriopSim. Some feedback we've heard, students have brought up the different instrument names which we've gone over multiple times. You can have three surgeons working in the exact same procedure, and they're all going to call the same instrument something different. So at least they're aware and roll with it.
What challenge does PeriopSim help you overcome in your program?
It helped me overcome the students' lack of preparedness when they came into the lab. Prior to working with PeriopSim, we were in the lab once a week and I'd have to spend a lot of time upfront explaining things such as passing and anticipation. Now they get to learn and experience this prior to coming into the lab. When I am speaking about these things now, they already have an understanding of what I'm talking about. They move a lot a lot quicker in class and get more done in a day, resulting in more students getting through the rotations and moving through their stations.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for other PeriopSim Educators?
I've been using PeriopSim for a few cohorts now and have learned some things. If another instructor asked me for tips, I would say demo it in front of the entire class first before assigning it. What I do is bring my class in and run through a demonstration of an instrumentation module and have a case ready for everyone to watch.
I would also suggest setting a due date for downloading PeriopSim, making sure the students can log in and run through a demo.
Also, at least one week before the first module is due I have everyone show me that they have logged in and have downloaded it to their computer, providing me time to assist any students if they need help with a module.
As many Educators know, what always happens is the day something is due I’ll receive an email from at least one student saying they can't download it to their computer 10 minutes before it's due.
Is there any other information about PeriopSim you wish to share?
I would just like to share that I am a huge advocate of PeriopSim. I highly recommend it for students before they go to clinicals, and even during their clinical, they can refer back to it. I think PeriopSim gives students a much better understanding of not only instrumentation, but how the instruments are used in the steps of the procedure to help with anticipation.
I also love the fact that PeriopSim uses real OR footage, It doesn't get much better than that.
PeriopSim is so right. I love it. I'm hooked, I'm sold.
I also love it when students write to me and ask how our program is different from the other programs around us, and one of the things I mention is that we have PeriopSim. I explain to them that we can bring the operating room to them at home, so that they get the added bonus before coming to class or going out to their clinical externships. Oftentimes I get told they like that PeriopSim is offered. It draws people in and sets us apart, and I'm happy to be a part of it.