Practice makes perfect! We’ve all heard it. And we all want those providing our medical care to be as close to perfect as possible.

At Virginia Mason, an equipment donation from the medical-equipment maker KARL STORZ Endoscopy-America Inc. is making it easier than ever for our providers to practice key procedures, so we can give our patients the best chance at a happy, healthy outcome. For example, we’re leaders in laparascopic/endoscopic procedures that involve guiding cameras and instruments through small openings in the body. This lets our doctors diagnose, treat surgically, and monitor and solve a wide range of medical issues — and even remove kidney tumors, stones and gallbladders — without full-blown surgery.

But training is important for our doctors to maintain their expertise.

“We’re not actually looking directly at the patient’s organs through a large incision during the procedure — we’re using our hands to control the instruments, and watching how the instruments respond on a high-definition video screen. This is surgery without tactile feedback — you can’t actually feel how hard you’re pulling or pushing on something,” says Virginia Mason urologist Dr. Paul Kozlowski. “We have to learn how to be visual surgeons rather than tactile surgeons, and the best way to do that is to practice outside the patient.”

Dr. Kozlowski played a key role connecting with KARL STORZ to donate instruments and a video tower to the Virginia Mason Floyd Jones Learning, Innovation and Simulation Center. Now, residents, fellows, operating room nurses and medical technicians can practice procedures on rubber dolls, using the same equipment that they’d use during real surgery.

“We have people in a variety of specialties, from urology, gynecology, otolaryngology and general surgery, using the instruments to improve their technique,” Dr. Kozlowski says.

Very few hospitals encourage this kind of cross-disciplinary collaboration and equipment-sharing, which is one reason why KARL STORZ selected Virginia Mason for this game-changing donation.

“KARL STORZ believes strongly in supporting learning, and we were impressed by the multidisciplinary nature of education at Virginia Mason,” says Suzanne Jefferson, a senior manager at KARL STORZ. “We saw an opportunity to help a broad patient population at an outstanding organization that’s committed to constantly improving, for the benefit of their community.”

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