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Minneapolis VA becomes first VA-Managed FES Testing Center

By David J. Adriansen, Ed.D., NREMT
VISN 23 Simulation Champion
Minneapolis VA Health Care System

MINNEAPOLIS The Minneapolis VA Health Care System (MVAHCS) recently became the first VA-managed Society for Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) Fundamentals of Endoscopic Surgery (FES) Testing Center. FES was developed by SAGES as a comprehensive educational and assessment tool designed to teach and evaluate the knowledge, clinical judgment and technical skills required in the performance of basic gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopic surgery (endoscopy). SAGES believe learning and applying these fundamental skills will help ensure a minimal standard of care for all patients undergoing endoscopic surgery.

In September 2015, the MVAHCS became the first VA-managed SAGES Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) Testing Center. Dr. Archana Ramaswamy, with the Surgery Specialty Care Service Line at the MVAHCS, and FES Testing Center director, then successfully applied to SAGES for FES Testing Center certification. Both Shanna Vagts and Cheryl Schmitz, at the Surgery Specialty Care Service Line, became SAGES certified FES Testing Proctors to support certification testing. 

FES is endorsed by the American College of Surgeons and mandated by the American Board of Surgery as a pre-requisite for eligibility for the general surgical board qualifying exam. The educational module consists of a web-based multimedia presentation of didactic content, as well as “watch and do” exercises that focus on manual skills training. SAGES designed FES for medical and surgical residents, fellows, practicing general surgeons, gastroenterologists and other physicians to learn and test basic endoscopic skills required to form a foundation in the practice of flexible endoscopy.

The Minneapolis VA Simulation Program is one of eight SimLEARN Advanced Tier Certified Simulation Centers. As of today, the MVAHCS remains the only VA-managed SAGES FLS and FES Testing Center within VHA, as well as the state of Minnesota.

Dr. Archana Ramaswamy (right), surgeon at the Minneapolis VAHCS and FES Training Center Director, instructs Dr. Kaustav Majumder on endoscopic procedural skills using a virtual reality simulation trainer. (VA photo by April Eilers)