Dr. Emilie Joos, BISC Associate Director, along with Irena Zivkovic and Dr. Farhana Shariff, recently published a review article exploring the opportunities for virtual learning strategies to be integrated into global surgical training.
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Modern surgical education has shifted to include technology as an integral component of training programs. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need to identify currently training modalities in global surgery and to delineate how these can be best used given the shift of global surgical training to the virtual setting. Here, we conducted a rapid review of the MEDLINE database examining the current status of training modalities in global surgical training programs and presented a case study of a virtual learning course on providing safe surgical care in the time of a pandemic. Our rapid review identified 285 publications, of which 101 were included in our analysis. Most articles describe training in high income country environments (87%, 88/101). The principal training modality described is apprenticeship (46%, 46/101), followed by simulation training (37%, 37/101), and virtual learning strategies (14%, 14/101). Our focused case study describes a virtual course entitled “Safe Surgical Care: Strategies During Pandemics,” created at the University of British Columbia by E.J., published 1-month postdeclaration of the pandemic. This multimodal course was rolled-out over a 5-week period and had significant engagement on an international level, with 1944 participants from 105 countries. With in-person training decreased as a result of the pandemic, virtual reality, virtual simulation, and telementoring may serve to bridge this gap. We propose that virtual learning strategies be integrated into global surgical training through the pursuit of increased accessibility, incorporation of telementoring, and inclusion in national health policy.