First virtual education platform for surgical skills training launched

By Patricia Mirasol

Johnson & Johnson Philippines, Inc. (J&J) collaborated with the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (POGS-NCR) and the Philippine Society of General Surgeons (PSGS Metro Manila and Central Luzon Chapters) to launch the country’s 1st Online Learning Continuum on Basic Surgical Skills Training. The pilot program, designed to develop resident doctors’ proficiency in basic surgical skills, began in October this year and will run until December 2021.

“This was formed specifically to address the concern of continuing education for first to third year surgical residents (doctors who are undergoing their specialization training), given the physical limitations of the global pandemic,” said Dr. Erwin Benedicto, J&J head of medical affairs, in an interview with BusinessWorld.

The training program consists of a fundamental module available on the official J&J platform, complemented with a pre-test video demonstrating surgical skill fundamentals as well as an overview of the technical knowledge needed for these, plus virtual workshops hosted on Zoom. Topics are chosen based on the courses and skill sets needed by surgeons to be certified as professionals in their specialized field. Seasoned proctors and surgeons from POGS-NCR and PSGS facilitate the practical tests and lectures.

Resident doctors who are members of POGS-NCR and PSGS can avail of the training under this program for free. Enrollees are sent all the necessary materials (such as a knot-tying board, skin pads, a fascie abdominal trainer, surgical instruments, and sutures) for their practical tests, courtesy of J&J. Grades will be based on test results from the modules and the evaluation of one’s skill set performance during the workshops.

The course is on-demand and can be completed at an individual’s own pace. Dr. Benedicto said that in the first three months of the program’s run, participants were able to finish five modules in one month on average. “Upon completion of all the modules, they will be issued certificates that will earn them points to graduate from their residency program,” he said.

The program has since been deployed in 87 training hospitals within the National Capital Region and Central Luzon. These initial partner hospitals – including UERM Memorial Hospital, UST Hospital, and Jose B. Lingad Hospital – are also the hospitals that the program’s faculty and enrollees practice in.

“We are currently focused on finishing up our program’s roll-out until next year,” added Dr. Benedicto, “but we are not closing the doors on opportunities to expand the reach of this program to more surgical residents across the country.”

“In the first few months of our roll-out of the program, feedback has been quite positive,” noted Dr. Benedicto. “Many have said that the program has been quite enriching and that the modules became a great tool in elevating their technical knowledge, particularly on the basics and optimal wound closure. Although there’s been some challenges, we were able to turn them into great opportunities for furthering our advocacy and purpose, as a healthcare company.”

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