Cardiac surgery course for medical students


September has been a month characterized by academic teaching. I’ve had the pleasure to host  two 5-student groups for two consecutive weekends in Lugano. This new heart surgery course ( that was specifically set up for medical students during clinical semesters.

The format is quite new: instead of giving the course at the specific universities, students come to Lugano for two days (Fridays and Saturdays) consisting of presentations and two practice sessions.

The theoretical topic of this course was mini invasive heart surgery with a multimedial overview on the latest techniques on valvular and coronary mini invasive surgery, robotic surgery and catheter mounted valves.

The first practical session saw the students exercising risky procedures such as thoracic drainage and pericardiocentesis using a simulator dummy.

The second practical session was dedicated to a basic technical gesture used in surgery: the vascular anastomosis (surgical term for joining together two hollow organs).

Thanks to the support from B.Braun and particularly in the person of Mr. Uwe App, the students had the chance to carry out  termino-terminal and termino-lateral anastomosis between different vascular prosthesis and porcine aortas.

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The students’ impressions:

After completion of the course, the students were encouraged to evaluate it by means of an anonymized online questionnaire. Eight evaluation forms (out of 10) were submitted, a well representative sample. In all forms (8/8) the level of complexity with respect to their knowledge of the subject was judged as adequate (i.e. the course was neither too complex nor too trivial). In all submitted evaluations (8/8) the intensity to pause ratio was judged as adequate, too. The practical modules were deeply appreciated! The general request was to allocate more time to them! The general impression of the course, as well as the evaluation of the teaching quality are shown in the following graphs:

 Evaluation course_01_02

My impressions

The interaction between the students and myself has been interesting and productive. Their questions and the discussions that sprung from the presentations were clear signs of active involvement and eagerness to learn more about the subject. The interaction became more intense and open during the lessons and practice sessions. The hours spent suturing, struggling with surgical threads and doing vascular anastomosis (surely the most loved session!) have been very interesting. Watching the various individual approaches dealing with the inevitable difficulties but also noting some natural talents has been a good learning curve. What surprised me most (also much appreciated) have been the well thought out questions and self-critical sense when self-evaluating the anastomosis that the students had just carried out. Very promising!

As such, my evaluation of the first edition of the course series is positive. It gives me the right motivation to also cover other niche topics, which for mere time reasons cannot be allocated to  the usual pre-degree cardiosurgical teaching.