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Perelman School of Medicine Student is a Surgical Top Gun

IMG_1435Perelman School of Medicine student Dan Hashimoto recently made Penn Medicine proud when he claimed the top spot in the Top Gun Laparoscopic Skills Challenge at the annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Hashimoto defeated a chief resident and a third year surgical resident from another institution to become the first medical student to place first in the competition since its inception at ACS in 1996!


Dan Hashimoto with Dr. James Rosser, founder of the Top Gun Laparoscopic Skills Challenge

The American College of Surgeons hosts the Top Gun Laparoscopic Skills Challenge on the first three days of the conference. The Penn surgery team advanced to the finals, beating out 30 other medical students, residents, fellows, and attending surgeons.

As Hashimoto writes in his Perelman School of Medicine blog post here, he credits those results to guidance he received from Noel Williams, MD, Kristoffel Dumon, MD, Kenric Murayama, MD, and residents and fellows in the Department of Surgery and helpful training at the Penn Clinical Simulation Center.

The VR simulators at the Penn Clinical Simulation Center offered Hashimoto an introduction into laparoscopy. These simulators use built-in metrics to give a performance score. The score factors in the number of movements made with instruments, how economical the movements are, and how quickly the participant completes the tasks. The Penn Clinical Simulation Center’s low-fidelity box trainers gave Hashimoto an opportunity to use real-world instruments which gave better haptic (i.e. touch) feedback during tasks.

Started by Dr. James Rosser of Morehouse Medical College, the rigorous and high pressure challenge includes the following tasks to show one’s proficiency in laparoscopy surgery:

  • The Bean Drop Drill – Participants use the non-dominant hand to lift black-eyed peas one at a time with a laparoscopic grasper and then drop each bean into a container with a tiny opening for the bean to fit. The metal container has a current running through it, which sets off a buzzer if the contestant touches the container in the process. Participants are tasked with dropping as many beans as possible into the cup in two minutes with as few errors as possible.
  • Cobra Rope Drill - Contestants unwind a coiled string that has alternating black and white sections using two laparoscopic graspers. The goal is to unwind the string as quickly as possible while only grasping the black portions of the string.
  • Intracorporeal suturing - Participants tie a surgeon's knot laparoscopically. In this event, metal barriers surround a small operative field in which contestants must throw and tie their suture. Touching the metal barriers sets off a buzz sound and adds 5 seconds to your time for each buzz. Participants aim to complete the knot as quickly as possible while minimizing errors. 

While participants perform the tasks, Dr. Rosser intimidates participants to depict an attending surgeon evaluating each participant in an OR environment.

Four Perelman School of Medicine students presented research and took part in other conference events to support their academic and professional careers. They attended sessions on topics such as health care disparities issues, quality and outcomes, education and training to advance patient safety, and adapting surgical care to a rapidly evolving health care environment. They also found time to sightsee in beautiful San Francisco.

Hashimoto anticipates using his sharpened laparoscopic skills in surgical residency.




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