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Home Our Missions Mission of Education The Making of a Tzu Chi Surgeon - simulated surgery training course: days 1 and 2

The Making of a Tzu Chi Surgeon - simulated surgery training course: days 1 and 2

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Article Index
The Making of a Tzu Chi Surgeon
A Tzu Chi exclusive
simulated surgery training course: days 1 and 2
A cadaver’s busy new life: days 3 and 4
Retrospect—end of day 4
All Pages

A four-day simulated surgery training course: days 1 and 2
A group of interns and instructors trickled into the center soon after seven in the morning. A four-day simulated surgery training course was about to start.

They changed, scrubbed, and suited up for the surgery ahead. Although simulated and on a cadaver, the surgery was nevertheless carried out as if it were on a real, living patient, with all the i’s dotted and all the t’s crossed every step of the way.

Eight silent mentors lay still on the operating tables arranged throughout the large mock operating room. The interns, instructors, and their support teams stood around their assigned tables and had a moment of silence to thank the silent mentors, whose photos and brief biographies were displayed on monitors hung near the operating tables.

Then they removed the Buddhist blankets from the dead and covered the corpses with hospital issue green sheets for surgery, exposing only the immediate areas to be operated on.

Dr. Yang Fu-lin (楊福麟), division head of the surgical ICU, Hualien Tzu Chi Medical Center, was one of the instructors. Under his direction, an intern made a one-centimeter incision between two ribs, put on a retractor, and poked her finger into the opening, probing deeper and deeper. Then she inserted a chest tube and a trocar into the cadaver. This chest tube insertion that she performed is one of the most elementary surgical techniques. Dr. Yang gave every intern an opportunity to perform this simple but potentially life-saving procedure.

Normally, the pleural space, between the chest cavity and a lung, has just a little serous fluid and no air. When the pleural space accumulates air or excessive fluid that displaces and compresses the lung, the person could develop pneumothorax (collapsed lung) or hydrothorax. This can be life-threatening if the patient can’t breathe. A timely chest tube insertion to let out the air or fluid can save a patient’s life.

While Dr. Yang’s group was busy with their tasks, other groups were also focusing on theirs. For example, at another table, orthopedic surgeon Wu Kun-ji (吳坤佶) guided his group of interns through femur traction for bone fractures. Throughout the day in the large room, participants worked through quite a few other procedures, such as peritoneal lavage, cystostomy, appendectomy, tracheostomy, laryngeal mirrors, venesection, and craniectomy.

The first day ended two hours before midnight. The participants did still more hands-on training all through the next day until that night, when each intern had to take an examination, performing under the instructor’s watchful eyes every procedure that they had practiced in the previous two days.

Although each silent mentor, by this time, had already been through several operations in various parts of her body, she just lay there silently and—if she could still think—looked forward to the next two days with a different, more experienced group of physicians.


The Beauty of the Jing Si Abode


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