The role of virtual reality in the changing landscape of surgical training

J R Abbas, J J Kenth and I A Bruce

Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 October 2020


Background– The current coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges to surgical training across the world. With the widespread cancellations of clinical and academic activities, educators are looking to technological advancements to help ‘bridge the gap’ and continue medical education.

Solutions – Simulation-based training as the ‘gold standard’ for medical education has limitations that prevent widespread adoption outside suitably resourced centres. Virtual reality has the potential to surmount these barriers, whilst fulfilling the fundamental aim of simulation-based training to provide a safe, effective and realistic learning environment.

Current limitations and insights for future – The main limitations of virtual reality technology include comfort and the restrictive power of mobile processors. There exists a clear developmental path to address these restrictions. Continued developments of the hardware and software set to deepen immersion and widen the possibilities within surgical education.

Conclusion – In the post coronavirus disease 2019 educational landscape, virtual, augmented and mixed reality technology may prove invaluable in the training of the next generation of surgeons.