Surgical robot keeps WCC on cutting edge of technology


Published on Oct 21, 2014 5:24pm

Washtenaw Community College is now the only community college in the country that has a state-of-the-art medical robot.

The da Vinci Surgical System is a sophisticated robotic platform designed to offer a minimally invasive option for major surgery. The highly accurate instruments allow the surgeon to move his or her own hands—and the robot’s— to conduct precise movements with extraordinary control and range of motion. The video monitoring system provides a three-dimensional view of the surgery site with magnification ten times that of the naked eye.

“Having the da Vinci really allows us to stand out as a leader in terms of training,” said Kris Brandemuehl, dean of the Math and Sciences division. “Our students will be coming into the field with experiences that will set them apart from their peers.”

The surgical system is for course SUR 270: Biomedical Science and Minimally Invasive Surgery—part of the college’s new Surgical Technology program. Students each receive over 20 hours with the technology, learning how to doc the robot (move it into position for surgery), drape it and assist the surgeon with loading differing instruments as well as troubleshoot errors during procedures.

“The idea is to give students the most experience possible,” said Paulette Woods-Ramsey, CST, CSFA, MHS, Surgical Technology program director. “The majority of the major hospitals and health systems in Southeast Michigan have da Vinci robots, so our graduates will have an advantage in terms of competition for jobs.”

The Surgical Technology program is new this year, currently running its first da Vinci course offering as a 7.5-week class with plans of expanding it to a full 12-week offering next semester. During the program students learn how to work hand-in-hand with surgeons and operating room teams. They act as the patient’s advocate and participate in preop and post-op protocols as well as anticipating the perioperative needs of the surgeon and surgical patient.

“Our students are excited to utilize the da Vinci,” Woods- Ramsey said. “They understand how important this is to their education and how it will give them an advantage in the workforce as well as giving them the edge they need to be successful in their careers.”