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Surgical Skills Simulation and Education Center
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USC Surgery I Clerkship Experiences

Third year medical students rotating on the surgery clerkship participate in 5 skills labs: a Suture Lab, Catheter Lab, and Procedure Lab, Mechanical Ventilation Simulation, and an Advanced Dissection and Tissue Handling lab at the Surgical Skills Center at the laboratories of the Surgical Skills Simulation and Education Center. Each lab is held during the first two weeks of the six-week rotation. Each lab consists of two hours of hands on instruction serving 20-25 students per session.

Suture Lab

To introduce students to basic knot tying and suturing techniques.

By the end of the session, the student should be able to:

  1. demonstrate the appropriate use of suture equipment (needle holder, pick-ups, scissors)
  2. demonstrate the ability to tie a two-handed knot.
  3. demonstrate the ability to perform an instrument tie.
  4. determine which suture and technique is appropriate for a given wound.
  5. discuss the potential complications of local anesthetics.
  6. demonstrate the proper technique for closing a wound
    1. simple interrupted
    2. simple continuous
    3. vertical mattress

Format for Session:
There will be a brief introduction to wound healing, knot tying, suturing materials, and suturing techniques followed by instruction and practice on knot tying and basic suture techniques. Students will divide into groups of six with one instructor per group. Each station will be approximately 30 minutes. There will be an instructor at each station to provide a brief introduction, demonstrate the appropriate technique, and provide student feedback on each technical skill.


Catheter Lab


Procedure Lab

Mechanical Ventilation Simulation

Provide hands-on, real-time training, in managing a simulated mechanically ventilated patient.

By the end of the session, the student should be able to:

  1. correctly interpret blood gas results
  2. recognize and treat hypoxia
  3. recognize and treat hypercarbia
  4. interpret and predict outcome of ventilator manipulations
  5. institute safe ventilator parameters
  6. order appropriate interventions for patient condition

Format for session:
A discussion and hands on time with the mechanical ventilator will precede the students time in the simulation suite. Following that time the students enter the suite and are given a report on the patient they are taking over. The patient will present in a myriad of conditions for the team to assess and treat. The team must order and draw blood gases, order images, call the attending, and argue their logic to confederates in order to treat the patient. Following the scenario the events that took place during the session are discussed in a debriefing.


Critical Care Procedures and Advanced Anatomy/Dissection Day 1 and 2:

Provide opportunity for procedural skills and advanced anatomy with faculty instruction using the fresh tissue cadaver model.

By the end of the session, the student should be able to:

  1. identify the proper equipment for intubation
  2. demonstrate the proper technique for intubation and LMA placement
  3. demonstrate the proper procedure for chest tube placement
  4. demonstrate the proper procedure for central line plaement
  5. demonstrate procedure for a surgical airway
  6. demonstrate proper dissection technique, respecting tissue and planes
  7. review anatomy of the neck, chest and abdomen

Format for session:
The students will be instructed on and supervised during the proper donning of personal protective equipment necessary for entry into the fresh tissue dissection laboratory. The students will be assigned to one of four autopsy tables. Slides and/or video procedural skills will be viewed and explained by senior residents or faculty. Senior residents or faculty will be present at each of the four autopsy tables to supervise technique and aid in identification of anatomy as the session progresses.


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Surgical Skills Simulation
and Education Center

USC Keck School of Medicine
Department of Surgery
2250 Alcazar Street, B-9
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Office: (323) 442-0349
Fax: (323) 442-0350