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Surgical robots: PNWU-COM students try out the da Vinci surgical system

Students test-drive the robotic surgery system and learn how the device can be used in their future careers.


Seth J. Minton, OMS II, sits at the console of the da Vinci surgical system—a robotic surgery system that enables surgeons to operate using a few small incisions. He carefully adjusts his grip as he moves the device’s mechanical arm to suture a wound.

Dozens of medical students joined Minton during the da Vinci demonstration recently held at the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine (PNWU-COM) in Yakima, Washington.

At the event, which was organized by the school’s Student Osteopathic Surgical Association (SOSA) chapter, surgeon Jason Cundiff, MD, of Yakima talked about his experience with the da Vinci system. One of the top users of the robotics system in the West, Dr. Cundiff completed nearly 1,300 procedures using the equipment over the last four-and-a-half years, according to a PNWU-COM statement. He also shared videos and slides from several of his operations using the da Vinci system.

During the event, students also tried their hand using the robotic surgery system and competed for prizes for the best performance of simple tasks, such as suturing a wound on a synthetic demonstration object.

“I was a little intimidated handling such as an expensive piece of equipment, but it was great getting this hands-on experience before rotations,” says Minton, SOSA president.

Exploring surgical careers

The da Vinci surgical system presentation is the latest way PNWU-COM’s SOSA introduces students to surgery. SOSA is a branch of the national students’ section of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons. Other topics the SOSA chapter at PNWU-COM has covered include residency programs in surgery, the latest surgical techniques and the osteopathic principles of surgery. The group also brings in surgeons from diverse fields to share their experiences.

“There are many different fields of surgery. It helps to hear from our guest physicians about their experiences practicing in those areas,” Minton says.

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