Physicians Learn Advanced Procedures at Minimally Invasive Surgical Training & Education Center

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Minimally invasive surgery is an acquired skill. It takes hands-on practice for medical students, residents, fellows and community physicians to develop the precise laparoscopic techniques needed for treating their patients.

From left, Jessica Chang, M.D., Ray Gonzalez, and Alexandra Monde, M.D.

At the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the Minimally Invasive Surgical Training & Education Center (M.I.S.T.E.) offers learning sessions on laparoscopic, endoscopic and vascular procedures almost every day, according to Ray Gonzalez, director of residency technical skills training in the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery.

“We have a simulated operating room setting in a non-clinical environment,” Gonzalez said. “Our training tools include a da Vinci Surgical System that enables surgeons to perform operations through a few small incisions.”

Now located in a 6,000-square-foot suite on the eighth floor of the Rosenstiel Medical Science Building, the M.I.S.T.E. center includes an area for students and physicians to observe procedures performed on simulators, cadavers and laboratory animals.

“This is an ideal setting to learn minimally invasive surgery,” said Gonzalez, noting the Miller School training program has grown steadily in the past 20 years. The center also includes conference rooms to discuss cases, classrooms with screens and projectors and a lounge for catering services.

Every year, more than 750 professionals take part in educational sessions at the M.I.S.T.E. center, including 35 residents from the Department of Surgery, residents and fellows from a wide range of departments, and medical students doing surgically oriented rotations.

“This program will help us in delivering post-surgical care for our transplant patients,” said Jessica Chang, M.D., a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) fellow at the Miami Transplant Institute, at a recent two-day laparoscopic training session sponsored by Olympus. Her colleague, Alexandra Monde, M.D., added that the training on kidney and pancreas procedures was important in identifying underlying patient issues related to the transplants.

Gonzalez said the M.I.S.T.E. center hosts 60 to 70 courses a year, each with at least 10-12 participants. “Our attendees include physicians from Latin America and the Caribbean, who come to the Miller School to learn new techniques, as well as training for medical device sales representatives and South Florida veterinarians,” he said.

For residents, a typical training session might include a series of lectures, videos, lunch and an observational session as an experienced Miller School surgeon conducts a robotic-assisted procedure. The M.I.S.T.E. center is also used by private companies to demonstrate a new surgical device or system for in-service training, or to gain feedback from physicians on new equipment in order to obtain approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration.

“Our M.I.S.T.E. center is a real asset to our medical education and training programs,” said Yuly Gavilla, executive director of business operations. “We are always busy and every day is different.”