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Residents jumpstart their training at KU Medical Center plastic surgery boot camp

August 11, 2016

By Greg Peters

Richard Korentager
Richard Korentager observes students at plastic surgery boot camp

For most people, the term boot camp generally conjures up images of drill sergeants barking orders before the sun rises and 10-mile slogs in the pouring rain. For the 19 medical students who attended the Plastic Surgery Boot Camp at the University of Kansas Medical Center this July, the basic training experience was less about exercising their brawn and more about using their brain.

The camp, which was sponsored by the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons, was designed to provide a solid grounding in the basics of plastic surgery before the residents embark on their formal specialty training. Course directors for the July event were Richard Korentager, M.D., chair of the KU Department of Plastic Surgery, and James Butterworth, M.D., assistant professor and director of the KU plastic surgery residency program.  

"I love the field of plastic surgery, and to be immersed in it for three days was great," said Kevin Xiao, M.D., a first-year plastic surgery resident from KU Medical Center. "It starts off our intern year on a high note."  

"Our goal was to introduce students to major concepts within plastic surgery and also to give them hands-on training with a variety of skills that they would not have been exposed to previously," Korentager said.  

Boot camp beginnings

The plastic surgery boot camp is the brainchild of American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons as a way for interns to get a leg up as they transition from their general medical school training to learning the specific skills required in their specialty. Leaders in the field of neurosurgery have conducted boot camps for about 10 years, so the organizers of the plastic surgery event were able to benefit from lessons learned from their peers.  

Korentager served on the faculty of the first plastic surgery boot camp, which took place last year at the University of Pittsburgh. It was through this experience that he came up with the idea to get KU in on the ground floor as the plastic surgery boot camp concept expanded to two more universities this year.  

"I felt that it was such an important resource for first-year plastic surgery residents that I offered to have the KU Department of Plastic Surgery as a site for this year," Korentager said.  

KU Medical Center joined the University of Pittsburgh and the University of South Florida as the sites for this year's boot camps. Boot camps are offered to residents who are entering either integrated or independent plastic surgery programs around the country. Three first-year plastic surgery residents from KU attended the boot camp, along with one fourth-year medical student.    

Learning the ropes

The boot camp was hosted by the Zamierowski Institute for Experiential Learning - an on-campus simulation facility that donated laboratory space and staff support to the event. On the first day, David S. Zamierowski, M.D., a retired plastic surgeon with a passion for education and the institute's key sponsor, welcomed the attendees, who then started the boot camp with large and small group interactive sessions.

Most of the first day was spent covering the basics of operating room procedures, from how to put on gloves, gowns and scrubs to the basics of how to suture a patient. Sessions on the final two days were more plastic surgery-specific. The students attended lectures and workshops on everything from cleft lips and palates to microsurgery techniques.

"I found it incredibly helpful to hear the key points of plastic surgery and get to practice things I have little or no experience with," said Julia Slater, M.D., who is entering her three-year plastic surgery residency at KU Medical Center.  

"My big takeaway was realizing how much there is to learn," Xiao said. "The field truly encompasses the entire body from head to toe."  

Happy campers  

Boot camp organizers hoped that by the end of the three days of intensive training the students would have had been exposed to a wide variety of skills resulting in an extremely valuable experience that will benefit their medical training.  

Korentager said he hopes to bring the boot camp back to KU next year.  

"The success of this boot camp was a testament to how well the plastic surgery residents, advanced practice providers and faculty of the Department of Plastic Surgery worked together to provide an interactive experience for the students."      

Other members of the boot camp faculty from the KU School of Medicine included: Wojciech Przlecki, M.D.; Ryan Endress, M.D.; Brian Andrews, M.D.; Charles Hendrix, M.D.; Julie Holding, M.D.; David Chandler, M.D.; Suzanne Mitchell, APN, Ph.D.; and Eric Lai, M.D. Physicians assistants Amit Suri and Peggy Tuttle also worked at the boot camp along with current postgraduate residents who worked as trainers. 

Last modified: Jul 26, 2018