Purpose of Review
Surgical simulation has become a cornerstone for the training of surgical residents, especially for urology residents. Urology as a specialty bolsters a diverse range of procedures requiring a variety of technical skills ranging from open and robotic surgery to endoscopic procedures. While hands-on supervised training on patients still remains the foundation of residency training and education, it may not be sufficient to achieve proficiency for graduation even if case minimums are achieved. It has been well-established that simulation-based education (SBE) can supplement residency training and achieve the required proficiency benchmarks.
Low-fidelity modules, such as benchtop suture kits or laparoscopic boxes, can establish a strong basic skills foundation. Eventually, residents progress to high-fidelity models to refine application of technical skills and improve operative performance. Human cadavers and animal models remain the gold standard for procedural SBE. Recently, given the well-recognized financial and ethical costs associated with cadaveric and animal models, residency programs have shifted their investments toward virtual and more immersive simulations.
Urology as a field has pushed the boundaries of SBE and has reached a level where unexplored modalities, e.g., 3D printing, augmented reality, and polymer casting, are widely utilized for surgical training as well as preparation for challenging cases at both the residents, attending and team training level.