Simulator helps UW surgeon improve medical training, patient care

Simulator helps UW surgeon improve medical training, patient care

A University of Wisconsin-Madison surgeon is on a mission to change testing standards for board-certified providers that would include testing touch techniques.

After more than 500 experienced physicians completed Dr. Carla Pugh’s breast exam simulation, her research published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine showed 10 to 15 percent of them were not using enough force during the exam.

“There are practicing clinicians, and most likely this is because they never learned the right technique. Not that they’re not capable,” Pugh said.

As Pugh trains the next generation of doctors like Lakita Maulson, she said the same type of motion tracking is just as invaluable for all procedures, like the hernia simulation Maulson had no previous hands-on experience with before Monday.

“It’s definitely hard to figure out at first,” Maulson said. “A textbook can tell you how hard you’re supposed to push. But this gives you a much better understanding of what you’re supposed to do.”

Pugh hopes that understanding will one day become the standard in medical training and certification.

“I’m passionately working on it. Yes,” Pugh said.

One day, Pugh would not only like touch scores to be an additional requirement for passing medical board testing, she also wants professionals to be able to practice on the job.