Microsurgical Training Facility

The Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI) / University of Oklahoma (OU) Department of Ophthalmology residency program prides itself on the surgical training we provide our residents. An integral part of this training is the experience gained in DMEI’s microsurgical training facility.

Designed to simulate a surgical suite, the microsurgical training facility includes a number of resources that enhance the surgical training experience, including the following:

  • EyeSi® surgical simulator – this high-end virtual reality simulator provides residents with objective assessments and detailed skills evaluation related to instrument and microscope handling, surgical efficiency, and tissue treatment.
  • Surgical microscopes with video recording capability for better surgical assessment.
  • Two phacoemulsification units – representing two of the major phacoemulsification platforms – to better prepare our residents for different future practice locales.
  • A fully stocked wet lab with operating equipment used for cataract, corneal, glaucoma, strabismus, and oculoplastic surgery.
  • A five-headed microscope, located in an adjacent area, is used to review and analyze pathology slides as part of the pathology curriculum led by Dr. Brian K. Firestone.

Simulation is heavily emphasized in the residency program, and the curriculum based on the EyeSi® simulator requires residents to complete the entire set of course modules by early in the PGY3 year. In addition, we developed a one-on-one tutorial program for each resident under the direction of Dr. Andrew T. Melson. In this program, all new residents undergo one-on-one individual surgical instruction from both faculty and senior residents during the first six months of their training, with examination at completion and opportunity for remediation if needed. This process improves patient safety as well as smooths the slope of resident learning curves in preparation for in vivo surgery. Using this tutorial approach, over a three-year period we were able to identify 30% of residents who underwent formal remediation resulting in better preparation to do in vivo surgery.

Using the EyeSi® simulator, all residents have completed their courses at appropriate milestones, and all graduating residents have successfully completed the advanced courses in cataract surgery. Supervising faculty have noted anecdotally that residents are more prepared and confident for real-life surgery.

We have collected cataract surgery complication rates for all residents performing surgery at DMEI. Our aggregate performance in this regard parallels national data benchmarks for attending surgeons, a remarkable achievement for surgeons still in training. We are also participating in a national research study through the American Academy of Ophthalmology to evaluate the spectrum of surgical learning curves on the EyeSi®.

In addition to the expected results noted above, the requirements for surgical practice for the residents have also helped them to improve their skills in time management and meeting assigned deadlines.