PrecisionOS interviewed Dr. Ruth Delaney, an orthopedic surgeon in Dublin and one of our advisory board members, on her career, changes in orthopedic training, VR in surgical education, what she likes about PrecisionOS, advice for aspiring surgeons, and more. We invite you to read the full interview below.
Share with us your journey in orthopedic surgery and the area you are passionate about.
“My name is Dr. Ruth Delaney. I’m a shoulder surgeon in Dublin, Ireland. I went to medical school in Ireland but did most of my training in the US. I trained at Harvard, which is where I met Dr. Danny Goel and I did residency there and then was a shoulder fellow in Boston and in France.
“I went back to Ireland in 2014 and started my practice, which is a 100% shoulder practice. I suppose, within orthopedics, the shoulder attracted me because there are a lot of challenges still in the world of shoulder surgery, particularly around young patients with arthritis. For example, how we solve issues around massive rotator cuff tears, debates about shoulder instability. So, within this one subspecialized area, there are lots of different areas that you can apply yourself to. There’s also trauma. There are so many facets to shoulder surgery, and I think that was what attracted me [to it].”
In what ways have you observed changes in orthopedic training since your own training?
“I think there probably are some differences in surgical training today compared to when I was a resident. There’s a lot more technology available and that’s changed very fast, probably in the last five years or so. That brings great opportunities, and it brings some challenges as well.
“In terms of the opportunities, we have more understanding now of how to plan. For example, in shoulder replacement, there’s a lot of technology and preoperative planning and intraoperative execution tools we can use. That means that you have a little bit more to deal with when you’re learning because you still need to learn the basics and not skip over the basics because the technology is there.
“I think there are also other pressures that have increased. They were probably there when I was a trainee, but I think they’ve increased particularly since the pandemic, things like time constraints. So as a surgeon, I often feel that it’s hard to let a trainee do a lot of the operation if it’s going to take a lot longer because we’re under that bit more pressure to get more patients through. And I think that sort of side of things where there’s time pressure and probably high expectations from patients as well. So, it gets harder and harder to deliver the same training on a practical level.”
What do you like most about PrecisionOS?
“One of the things I like the most about PrecisionOS is that it still remains patient focused. The whole idea is that we need to train the next generation of surgeons. We need to do so in a way that makes sure that they’re good enough to take care of the next generation of patients, but without causing any harm to the current generation of patients. And that’s always been the struggle with surgical training. And suddenly this whole concept of using VR makes that much easier.
“I think that’s my favorite thing about PrecisionOS, is probably that it’s still patient centered. It doesn’t get distracted by all of the exciting technology, which is really interesting to use, but I think the fact that there’s alignment between the mission of the company and the mission of the surgeons is really important.”
In your opinion, what are the key advantages of VR surgical training?
“The key advantages with surgical training… obviously eliminating risk to patients. It creates a really safe environment to simulate surgeries. I think that’s probably the biggest one.
“Another advantage is the removal of geographic barriers. For example, I did a virtual surgery with Dr. Goel, Dr. Warner, and some surgeons in Switzerland recently where we were all in different countries but could collaborate together and to learn together using the headset. So, I think removing kind of the need to travel to get training is also another advantage of it. I think those are kind of the key things.”
“I think it’s something that should be included in this day and age because it’s also going to kind of lead into some of the things that are in clinical practice in terms of augmented reality and all of that. But it also enhances the surgical training by saving on time. By the time a trainee is operating on a patient in a controlled manner, in a supervised manner, if they’ve already walked through it on VR, then they’re going to be much better when they first touch a patient. So, I think that makes it really important and it shouldn’t be that difficult to implement. So, I think that those are the key advantages.”
If you were sitting down with a fellow shoulder resident to talk to them about this technology for the first time, what would you tell them?
“So, I would explain that PrecisionOS is using a completely virtual environment to simulate what we’re doing in the operating room, and that this allows you to walk through the steps of the operation and actually even have some haptic feedback and really get quite a realistic experience of being in the or obviously with some limitations, but it is a much easier way to learn an operation than reading an operative technique.”
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an orthopedic surgeon?
“The most rewarding aspect of being an orthopedic surgeon has to be the patients who tell you that what you’ve done for them changed their lives. We sometimes forget, you know, the impact that something has, and I think that’s got to be the best thing about it.”
What advice would you give to aspiring orthopedic surgeons?
“There are lots of, I suppose, pieces of advice you could give to a resident who’s looking to go into shoulder surgery.
“I think one of the most important things is to seek out really good mentors, and don’t be shy about approaching mentors because everybody was a resident once and it really opens up a whole world of a subspecialty when you have the right people mentoring and sponsoring you.”
Tell us a story about you using the PrecisionOS VR platform.
“I suppose my personal use of PrecisionOS got really practical when a new implant came out and I didn’t have the opportunity to go to a cadaver lab and practice it before I was putting it in a patient. But we had a module on PrecisionOS that I was able to actually walk through in VR and sort of teach myself that implant rather than the very first time I walked through it being actually in a real case. So, I think even practicing surgeons can benefit from using VR when there is a new implant or a new technique that they want to learn.”
PrecisionOS is a leader in surgical training and provides a safe and effective way for trainees to learn and practice surgeries without risking patient safety. If you’re interested in learning more about how PrecisionOS can benefit your residency program, we invite you to book a demo with our team today.