Will It Play in Peoria? A Pilot Study of a Robotic Skills Curriculum for Surgical Oncology Fellows

Sarwat B. Ahmad, Mary Joe Rice, Cecilia Chang, Ahmad Hamad, T. Peter Kingham, Jin He, Jose M. Pimiento, Amer H. Zureikat, Herbert J. Zeh, Melissa E. Hogg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: To implement a mastery-based robotic surgery curriculum using virtual reality (VR) and inanimate reality (IR) drills at multiple Complex General Surgical Oncology (CGSO) fellowships. Patients and Methods: A prospective study of curriculum feasibility and efficacy was conducted at four CGSO fellowship sites. All sites had simulators, and kits were provided to perform 19 biotissue drills. Fellows from three non-UPMC sites (n = 15) in 2016–2018 were compared with fellows from University of Pittsburgh (UPMC; n = 15) where the curriculum was validated in 2014–2018. Results: All fellows completed the pre- and post-test. There was no difference in pre-test scores between UPMC and non-UPMC sites. Only 7 of 15 non-UPMC fellows completed the VR curriculum (47% compliance) compared with all 15 UPMC fellows completing the VR curriculum (100% compliance). UPMC had higher curriculum times (217 versus 93 mins) and % mastery (86% versus 55%). Time spent on curriculum was associated with % mastery (p = 0.01). Both groups showed improvement between pre- and post-test. Post-test VR scores trended higher for UPMC (221 versus 180). Between the non-UPMC sites, there was a difference in compliance (p = 0.03) and % mastery (p = 0.03). Zero non-UPMC fellows performed the biotissue drills, while five contemporary UPMC fellows completed 253 biotissue drills. Approximately 140 UPMC faculty and 300 staff hours were spent on the pilot. Conclusions: A proficiency curriculum can result in improved robotic console skills. However, multiple barriers to implementation potentially exist, including availability of simulators, availability of a training robot, on-site support staff, and universal buy-in from fellows, faculty, and leadership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6273-6282
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Robotic surgery
  • Surgical simulation
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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