Developing a Robotic Surgery Curriculum: Selection of Virtual Reality Drills for Content Alignment

Rodrigo E. Alterio, Madhuri B. Nagaraj, Daniel J. Scott, Juan Tellez, Imad Radi, Hayley B. Baker, Herbert J. Zeh, Patricio M. Polanco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Despite the importance of simulation-based training for robotic surgery, there is no consensus about its training curricula. Recently, a virtual reality (VR) platform (SimNow, Intuitive, Inc) was introduced with 33 VR drills but without evidence of their validity. As part of our creating a new robotic VR curriculum, we assessed the drills’ validity through content mapping and the alignment between learning goals and drill content. Methods: Three robotically trained surgeons content-mapped all 33 drills for how well the drills incorporated 15 surgery skills and also rated the drills’ difficulty, usefulness, relevance, and uniqueness. Drills were added to the new curriculum based on consensus about ratings and historic learner data. The drills were grouped according to similar skill sets and arranged in order of complexity. Results: The 33 drills were judged to have 12/15 surgery skills as primary goals and 13/15 as secondary goals. Twenty of the 33 drills were selected for inclusion in the new curriculum; these had 11/15 skills as primary goals and 11/15 as secondary goals. However, skills regarding energy sources, atraumatic handling, blunt dissection, fine dissection, and running suturing were poorly represented in the drills. Three previously validated inanimate drills were added to the curriculum to address lacking skill domains. Conclusions: We identified 20 of the 33 SimNow drills as a foundation for a robotic surgery curriculum based on content-oriented evidence. We added 3 other drills to address identified gaps in drill content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-732
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Content alignment
  • Curriculum development
  • Robotic surgery
  • SimNow
  • Simulation
  • Validity evidence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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