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Concept and evaluation of the German War Surgery Course – Einsatzchirurgie-Kurs der Bundeswehr

Abstract

Introduction Military surgeons must be prepared to care for severe and complex life-threatening injuries rarely seen in the civilian setting. Typical civilian training and practice do not provide adequate exposure to the broad set of surgical skills required. The German Bundeswehr Medical Service has developed and refined the War Surgery Course (WSC) to meet this training gap. This article describes the recent experience with this readiness curriculum.

Methods Run annually since 1998, WSC consists nowadays of 5 days with 20 theoretical modules. Four sessions with standardised practical skills training use a live tissue porcine model, and the recently added cadaver-based Advanced Surgical Skills for Exposure in Trauma course. Sixteen military surgeons who participated in the WSC in January 2016 completed a survey of their self-rated readiness for 114 predefined emergency skills before and after completion, and provided an overall evaluation of the course.

Results Self-assessed readiness improved significantly over baseline for all areas covered in both the practical skills and theoretical knowledge portions of the WSC curriculum. Additionally, all participants rated the course as important and universally recommended it to other military surgeons preparing for missions.

Conclusions The WSC course format was well received and perceived by learners as a valuable readiness platform. Ongoing evaluation of this course will enable data-driven evolution to ensure a maximum learning benefit for participants. With the increasing multinational nature of modern military missions, surgeons’ training should follow international standards. Continuing evolution of military surgical training courses should further encourage the sharing and adoption of best educational practices.

  • Military surgery
  • Medical service
  • War surgery
  • Training
  • Trauma
  • Education
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