ABLE 10th Annual Bioskills Symposium


Questions & Answers

Question: What is Bioskills?
Answer: Bioskills describes the practice of simulating a medical environment for the education of healthcare professionals, for the purposes of teaching, studying, training or researching, the gross structure of the human body, or performing medical or surgical procedures. Bioskills replicates the patient experience through the use of human, or animal anatomical specimens (cadavers, whole, or in part), medical simulators, or synthetic models.
Question: What does Bioskills training involve?
Answer: Bioskills includes activities such as : (a) dissection, (b) removal of, or carrying out a procedure on or in relation to, one or more parts of the body, (c) implanting into the body any: (i) part of a body, (ii) prosthesis, or (iii) implant. Healthcare professionals will practice a procedure in a Bioskills laboratory to learn a new skill, or improve their current skills proficiency prior to conducting the same procedure on a live human or animal.
Question: Who needs Bioskills?
Answer: Healthcare professionals of nearly every type (MD, Surgeons, Dentists, Nurses, NP, EMT, PA, etc…) require some level or form of bioskills training both during their academic career, and continuously during their lifetime of practicing healthcare.  Surgery especially remains a skill-based discipline requiring familiarity with instrumentation, regional anatomy, and medical specialty, and competence in performing a range of surgical procedures, for which constant education and re-education is required. In addition, surgeons do not operate alone, and the entire surgical team of healthcare professionals must be as familiar with the procedure and equipment as the surgeon who leads them. Learning the anatomy of the human body with all relevant nomenclature from pictures or plastic models is a good start, but that’s like learning how to fly the space shuttle from watching a few launches on TV. Actually getting the chance to see the musculature, the blood vessels, the nerves, of a real human specimen in a bioskills course provides as close to a live patient learning experience as you can get.
Question: Who uses Bioskills education?
  • Medical Device Companies:
    • Sales rep education- insures they understand their product, present it properly, and do not sell “off label”
    • New Product launch- Marketing/sales to surgeons/institutions, new technology requires 
    • Competitive exposure- Sales to surgeons/institutions, to show the benefits and differences between currently used systems
  • Surgical Apprenticeship- When a novice surgeon learns an established procedure under supervision, better to try it on a cadaver first than a live patient!
  • Continuing Medical Education (CME)- hands-on training on an anatomical specimen is an attractive learning format for surgeons who wish to maintain their licenses, maintain competence and learn about new and developing areas of their field
  • Hospital credentialing and privileging of surgeons- Documenting the skills of a surgeon or other healthcare professional is particularly important for new technology (e.g. Robotic endoscopy systems)
  • Surgical Innovation and Research-When a pioneering surgeon seeks to innovate and develop a new technique, conducting this research in a cadaver specimen is the first most accurate replication of how it will work in a live patient.
Question: What are the benefits of Bioskills to healthcare professionals?
There is a continuous requirement for anatomy training for Healthcare professionals, not only to obtain principles of knowledge (which can be gained through academic learning), but also to gain practical Hands-on skills to solidify the learning experience. In addition to the anatomy, the medical professional must learn to use the many and varied devices and instruments,  optimizing a procedure approach to that reduce time and improve outcome. These skills require hands on training to become familiar with the intricacy of the anatomy and the procedure. More hands on practice is needed to achieve an acceptable degree of competence, and even more repetition and refinement to achieve mastery. Better these skills are acquired and practiced initially in a bioskills “simulated surgery” environment then on live patients who would be obviously at risk.
Question: Why use cadavers? Aren't all humans alike? Can't they learn on models?
Answer: While a model or simulator is an excellent tool for practicing hand dexterity for a procedure, or getting a general understanding of the anatomy, no model or simulator can fully replicate the detail and tactile feel of real tissue. In addition, although a textbook, model or simulator can describe or represent the “average” anatomy you should expect to find, no two human bodies have identical anatomy, not even identical twins.  While all humans do have the same basic anatomical structures (organs, major vessels, nerves, etc..), there are many variations in how that anatomy appears and even where it is located in each person.  Factors such as gender, age, weight, health status and even life experiences can influence the anatomical differences that makes each of us a unique individual. In addition, the appearance of normal anatomy in the human body can be severely altered by disease and injury. Cadaver specimen dissection allows healthcare professionals to see both the normal and the pathologic processes that can occur, things like tumor formations, traumatic injury, degradative processes, or the effects of past surgical procedures.
Question: What are the benefits of Bioskills to the average person?
Answer: Without bioskills training there are potential risks to the patient from a healthcare professional learning a procedure ‘on the job’. New techniques may be associated with higher rates of surgeon-related complications.  For instance, it has been shown that poor surgical exposure and technique in hip replacement can lead to suboptimal implant orientation and subsequent early failure. If these skills can be acquired and practiced in a bioskills simulated surgery environment, then patients are obviously not at risk during this learning process, and the healthcare professional’s competency is greatly improved before treating a live patient.
Question: Why would I want to become a Member of ABLE?
  • To network and benefit from my peers across the country in effort to keep current with industry standards. 
  • By becoming a member I have a better understanding of how my facility operations compare and are there new ideas that can help my customers in the work that they do? 
  • Another benefit is to have input into important issues like guidelines and current practice issues that our industry faces with using human tissue.
  • Becoming a member allows you to work closely with your peers in the bioskills, medical device and non-transplant anatomical materials industry and gain access to critical knowledge within these organizations.