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PHOENIX (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Ever think about how surgeons get their training? Well, the days of crowding into an operating room are almost gone. Medical students are now using two state-of-the-art technologies to look over the shoulder of an experienced surgeon.
Doctor Robert Spetzler, M.D., of Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, is one of the world's leading neurosurgeons. Today, he is repairing an aneurysm in a patient's brain.
Dr. Spetzler is also a teacher. But his students aren't here in the operating room. They're down the hall in a cutting-edge classroom, viewing every detail of the surgery on huge TV screens. They say it's actually better than being there.
"This is pretty cool," says Ruth Bristol, M.D., a future neurosurgeon. "I think it is a great opportunity."
Residents used to cram into the operating room to catch just a glimpse of a procedure. Now microscope cameras capture every nuance, and video conference screens bring students and teachers face-to-face.
"I can actually make eye contact and get a feel for the question. It's more of a personal relationship," Dr. Spetzler tells Ivanhoe.
In the future, the technology will assist ER doctors at other hospitals.
"What we really do is teach, and this MedPrescence technology extends our ability to teach the world," says Stephen Papadopoulos, M.D., also of Barrow Neurological Institute.
But for now, the medical students of today are using this new technology to become the surgeons of tomorrow.
The $1.1 million system is only at St. Joseph's Hospital right now, but will soon be expanding to other teaching hospitals.