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University of Miami First to Train Medical Students Using HelpMeSee Eye Surgery Simulator

Recognizing mutual interests in eye care and simulation-based training, the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and Gordon Center for Research in Medical Education (GCRME), both of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and HelpMeSee, a non-profit humanitarian organization, today announced a unique partnership to train medical students using the HelpMeSee eye surgery simulator and simulation-based training curriculum. The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is the first medical center in the United States to incorporate this first-of-its-kind virtual reality simulation technology in its teaching program.

Daniel Hutter, M.D., trains an ophthalmology resident using the HelpMeSee eye surgery simulator.

“Surgical simulation is the future of surgical education and will enhance the University of Miami’s robust training programs.  In addition to providing leading-edge training, ophthalmic simulation provides an ideal environment that allows physicians to perfect their surgical skills and gain valuable experience on a wide-range of complex conditions,” says Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

The HelpMeSee eye surgery simulator and simulation-based training curriculum go beyond the traditional technique driven training models to directly teach surgical decision making and tissue handling. The simulator replicates the mechanics of surgical interactions:  angles, forces, friction, flow and resistance with realistic cause and effect. No other simulator presents this level of detail and fidelity. The virtual reality simulation is not just visual, but also tactile with a real eyeball feel – the “wow” effect. Combined with real time feedback, the simulator is a powerful tool for trainees to learn not just what to do, but why a technique works. This is important for standardizing surgical techniques and improving quality of care.

“At the Gordon Center, we pride ourselves with being at the forefront of innovative training and development – just look at our work with ‘Harvey,’ the world’s first cardiopulmonary patient simulator, which is now used to train over 75,000 learners annually at nearly 700 institutions worldwide,” said Barry Issenberg, M.D., Director, GCRME. “As a firm believer in the benefits of virtual reality simulation training to reduce complications and improve patient care, we envision using the HelpMeSee eye surgery simulator as another tool in advancing medical research, education and practice.”

HelpMeSee also uses its cutting-edge technology and training, which is based on the proven track record of simulation training in aviation, to teach and empower eye care specialists in developing countries to perform sight-restoring cataract procedures. According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Over 100 million people around the world are blind or severely visually impaired by cataracts.

“From tomatoes to pig eyes to virtual reality, ophthalmology surgical training has come a long way,” said Daniel Hutter, M.D., ophthalmologist, medical officer of HelpMeSee and University of Miami alumnus. “Given its ability to uniquely replicate surgical mechanics, the HelpMeSee eye surgery simulator has the potential to transform surgical training and become the standard for instruction around the world. HelpMeSee is thrilled that the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is the first to come onboard.”

As a first step, HelpMeSee instructors are training 40 medical students from various medical schools in the United States during the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine elective in ophthalmology, which is directed by Kara Cavuoto, M.D., Director of Medical Student Education in Ophthalmology and Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer.

About Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is ranked the nation’s best in ophthalmology by U.S. News & World Report, an honor it has received for the 17h time.  It is also ranked as the #1 overall ophthalmology programfirst in clinical care and first in residency program by Ophthalmology Times. In addition to its international reputation as one of the premier providers of eye care in the world, Bascom Palmer is the largest ophthalmic care, research and educational facility in the southeastern United States.  Each year, more than 250,000 patients are treated with nearly every ophthalmic condition and more than 18,000 surgeries are performed. With five patient care facilities in Florida (Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples, Plantation and Coral Gables at the Lennar Foundation Medical Center), the Institute serves as the Department of Ophthalmology for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, part of UHealth-University of Miami Health System. For more information, visit www.bascompalmer.org.

 About Michael S. Gordon Center for Research in Medical Education
The Gordon Center is a designated Center of Excellence of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. It was established more than 45 years ago for the application of advanced technology and innovation to medical education for medical students, physicians, physician assistants, nurses, paramedic/firefighters and instructors. More than 2,000 medical centers and agencies worldwide use the educational systems and training curricula developed at the Center. The Center occupies a 34,000 sq.ft. state-of-the-art facility, with the capability for simulation and design engineering, production and manufacturing. The Center has published numerous, highly-cited studies on the benefits of simulation for medical education, including translational work that demonstrated the transfer of skills to patients.  For more information, visit http://www.gcrme.miami.edu/.

About HelpMeSee
HelpMeSee is a non-profit organization committed to ending the global health crisis of cataract blindness. HelpMeSee’s goal is to bring sight to more than 100 million individuals who are needlessly blind or disabled due to cataracts.

With a focus on simulation-based training, HelpMeSee has introduced sustainable solutions to support safe surgery in developing countries. By 2030, the organization’s  goal is to have in place a network of thousands of trained cataract surgical specialists and community health workers to provide eye care across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

In addition, HelpMeSee is developing a mechanics of ophthalmic surgery training program to improve surgeon tissue handling and surgical judgement at medical centers around the world, starting with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

For more information, visit the HelpMeSee website.

Tags: HelpMeSee, simulation-based training, virtual reality