Where practice meets science

by Brent Ward, DDS, MD, FACS

As a learning strategy, “practice makes perfect” takes root early. Extensive research shows it to be as relevant for adult learners as it is for 5-year-olds. AAOMS’s Office-Based Emergency Airway Management (OBEAM) course offers oral and maxillofacial surgeons a realistic environment in which to practicetheir life-saving skills in airway management.

Dr. Brent Ward

It stands to reason that in a complex, high-stakes scenario (such as an office-based anesthesia emergency), practicing these skills will increase the likelihood of positive outcomes in a real-life emergency. To replace that assumption with data, these questions must be asked: Can practice (in the form of simulated experiences) develop competence? Can that competence be measured in a repeatable and scientific way? Can we apply that measurement to validate our specialty’s team-based in-office anesthesia delivery model? This is where practice meets science.

In the past two years, the OMS Foundation has invested heavily in clinical research to address these questions. OMSs at the University of Michigan and Pittsburgh’s Allegheny General Hospital are collaborating with anesthesiologists, simulation research experts and educators to develop, implement and measure the effectiveness of simulation training for anesthesia-related crisis management. They – along with AAOMS – are using state-of-the-art SimMan 3G manakins to simulate anesthesia emergencies with real-time vital signs, airway complications and verbal manakin feedback. Programmed to respond to the management strategies of the team, these life-size manakins are the closest replication of a typical OMS patient available in 2023. The outcomes of these studies will support AAOMS’s National Simulation Program and other competency-based training programs.

Offering more than a hyper-realistic practice environment for crisis management skills, the simulators and researchers also collect data to assess the competence of the participant. Using these data, these studies seek to prove that standardized simulation training consistently leads to competence, and that the measurement of a competent surgeon is valid, repeatable and applicable as one piece of data in assessing the global expertise of the OMS specialty.

Imagine bringing an entire team to a realistic simulation training incorporating validated metrics for competence (such as AAOMS’s Office-Based Crisis Management simulation training module). Halfway through a biopsy, the “patient” crashes. With practice, the OMS and his/her team appropriately manage the emergency, demonstrating competence that is verified by data that have been collected. These certifications of competence attest to the safety of the OMS specialty’s team-based anesthesia delivery model, and each trained team represents a brighter future for the specialty and its patients.

These projects, supported by OMSFIRE and other gifts to the Annual Fund, exemplify the Foundation’s commitment to invest in projects that support AAOMS’s education goals, impact the everyday practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery and help secure its future. They represent the ultimate goal of the Foundation: to find and fund ground-breaking research in which practice meets science.