Ready, set, practice medicine

Ready, set, medicine

New residents hone their skills before first day on call

By Melanie Stawicki Azam

New orthopedic residents Dr. Brendan Williams (left) and Dr. Josh Vickers (right) practice casting and splinting techniques on each other during an orthopedics boot camp, while cast tech James McDuffie (center) looks on. This is the second year the department has held the program for incoming orthopedics residents.

Days before he was to start his first shift at Shands at UF, new resident Brendan Williams, M.D., watched as his lower leg was immobilized in a splint at UF’s Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Institute.

“Not too tight, you don’t want to cut the circulation off,” senior cast tech Rodney Jones said to Josh Vickers, M.D., the new orthopedic surgery resident applying the splint to Williams’ leg.

“Are you sure?” joked Vickers.

Luckily, Williams’ “injury” wasn’t real. The splint was just part of an orthopedic boot camp skills lab for new residents.

The College of Medicine’s department of orthopaedics and rehabilitation started the orientation program in 2011, said Kendra Gordon, education and training coordinator for the department.

“It’s just to make them a little more comfortable,” she said.

The boot camp allows new residents to practice basic skills and procedures, participate in simulation exercises and patient communication scenarios, and have their skills assessed by faculty members. It also gives new interns additional time to get familiar with the campus, faculty and staff, and the EPIC electronic medical records system before starting their jobs.

“I think this will reduce the stress during the first few days in the hospital,” said Williams, who moved to Gainesville from New York for his residency in orthopedic surgery.

Mark Scarborough, M.D., chair of orthopaedics and rehabilitation, got the idea for the program from the department of neurosurgery, which started its resident boot camp in 2009.

Gwen Lombard, Ph.D., R.N., an associate program director of the neurosurgery residency program, said the neurosurgery boot camp allows new residents to hone their skills and gives faculty members a glimpse at what they know.

“They come with different levels of skill sets,” she said.

Neurosurgery’s three new residents do everything from performing a neurological exam to practicing spinal taps and ventriculostomies on computerized mannequins in the department’s simulation lab.

“We want them to be prepared, so we want them to have the basic tools to be successful,” said Jamie Dow, resident education and training coordinator for the neurosurgery department.

Sharron Wallace, housestaff affairs coordinator in Gainesville, said other departments also have residents arrive a little earlier for orientation and to complete specialized training. For example, critical care, surgery and emergency medicine have new residents complete specialized advanced cardiovascular life support training and advanced trauma life support training.

“They’re getting the sickest patients, trauma patients, so they need a little more specialized training before they hit the ground running,” Wallace said.

All incoming first-year residents also do Objective Structured Clinical Examinations, where they are observed and evaluated as they interview, examine and treat standardized patients at the college’s Harrell Professional Development and Assessment Center. The results of this assessment are shared with each resident’s program director enabling them to tailor early training to specific areas of weakness identified by this examination.

Residents said they appreciate the extra time and training.

“We’re learning a lot of stuff that we’re going to be to expected to know when we start,” said Orrin Dayton, M.D., a new neurosurgery resident. “I think it will make us more efficient and better doctors our first day on the floor.”