Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Shorecrest students receive hands-on experience with Intuitive’s da Vinci Robotic Assisted Surgical System

by Stacy Alexander Director of Alumni and Community Engagement
Shorecrest students had the great opportunity to explore and experience the da Vinci mobile system, part of Intuitive Surgical’s Intelligent Surgery Platform with hands-on robotic sessions and instruction by surgeons on May 10 and 11 in Charger Commons. The program is a partnership between Shorecrest’s Center for Medical Sciences and Intuitive Surgical, makers of the da Vinci System and supports the school’s STEAM curricula and innovation-focused mission.

“Our hope is that we inspire the kids to think about becoming our next generation of surgeons, engineers, software programmers, cybersecurity experts, sales and/or marketing professionals by showcasing our Intelligent Surgery platform in a hands-on environment and giving them a short presentation of the future of our AI/Machine Learning technologies in development,” said Darla Hutton, U.S. Vice President of Marketing and Customer Analytics for Intuitive Surgical and also a Shorecrest parent and Board member.

The da Vinci robot is used by surgeons using a computer console to control very small instruments and a high-resolution camera attached to robotic arms. On Friday students used the robotic-assisted surgical device to complete a challenge looping rubber bands on small cones, and on Saturday, with the guidance of surgeons, “operated” on hearts and kidneys creating incisions and suturing. Students in both the Upper School in Anatomy, Computer Programming, Introduction to Medical Sciences, Engineering, and Robotics and in Middle School STEAM Club and Robotics were given a presentation on the robot’s functions and received firsthand experience operating the system.

"People think that robotics are going to take over surgery," Ms. Hutton cautioned. "That's a misperception. What we realize is that it's not about the robot. The robot actually uses master/slave technology, and there is a human understanding that is required to go along with the technology, especially in healthcare. It's our job to understand the choreography in an O.R. to make surgery better for the patient, surgeon and medical team."

Shorecrest students expressed their gratitude for the hands-on opportunity. Jacqui Barnes ‘19 said, “It is very rare that high school students would be able to meet and hear from professionals within the equipment and technology side of medicine, and it's even more rare for a high school student to have the opportunity to use machines that are actually used for surgical procedures.”

A special thank you to Advent Health’s Tampa campus and surgeons who donated their time and expertise to our students:
Dr. Sharona Ross-HPB and General Surgery
Dr. Alex Rosemurgy- HPB and General Surgery
Dr. Juan Pablo Gonzalvo- Bariatric Surgery

In February, Upper School students Jacqui Barnes '19 and Natalie Fort ‘19 (President and Treasurer of Shorecrest's Pre-med Club) along with Dr. Anna Baralt, Shorecrest’s Director of Educational Technology, attended the 10th Annual International Women in Surgery Career Symposium in Clearwater. The symposium was a professional and academic event designed for women who aspire to a career in surgery or wish to enhance their careers in surgery.

Ms. Hutton encouraged Shorecrest to get students involved. Alongside physicians, ARNPs, medical students, and other healthcare professionals, the two members of the Shorecrest Class of 2019 had the opportunity to attend the opening ceremony and test out surgical equipment.

“The Women In Surgery symposium was a very unique opportunity that would definitely be of interest to any young woman interested in the STEAM fields, especially those interested in medicine," Jacqui explained. "The professionals discussed issues and challenges women face regularly in a male-dominated field, exchanged career strategies, shared success stories, and planned for a future that holds equality in the medical field.”

Natalie reflected, “I enjoyed the laparoscopic surgery simulation. Jacqui and I had to work together to do a small bowel dissection using a Signia Stapler. It was very challenging to do a 'surgery' with four hands inside a box that represented a patient’s abdomen. It really put into perspective how difficult it is to learn how to perform laparoscopic surgery.”

Natalie particularly enjoyed the da Vinci System simulation because the system offered feedback that helped the aspiring surgeons improve their accuracy. 

View more photos from the da Vinci visit to Shorecrest here. 
More photos from the Women in Surgery Career Symposium here.

Shorecrest Preparatory School

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191
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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.