Virtual Reality and Surgical Simulation Training for Orthopaedic Surgery Residents: A Qualitative Assessment of Trainee Perspectives

Andrew W. Kuhn, Justin K. Yu, Katherine M. Gerull, Richard M. Silverman, Alexander W. Aleem

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background:The demonstrated benefits of virtual reality (VR) in orthopaedic surgical training are numerous. However, it is relatively unknown how best to implement VR into an already established orthopaedic resident education curriculum and how trainees will engage and use these technologies longitudinally.Methods:This was an exploratory, qualitative research study performed in accordance with Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research guidelines. Orthopaedic surgery residents at a single institution were recruited during the 2022 to 2023 academic year. Semistructured interviews were conducted. Data were analyzed through grounded theory methodology, beginning with open coding, followed by axial coding, and concluding with selective coding that describes orthopaedic surgery residents' current perceptions of VR as a training tool.Results:Six residents participated in interviews before thematic saturation was achieved. Average interview length was 13:27 (±2:59) minutes. Residents felt that currently, VR is most useful for interns and junior residents as an educational adjunct for learning anatomy, surgical exposures, and the steps of a procedure in a risk-and judgment-free arena. There seems to be a "ceiling effect" with VR given current technological limitations, and residents remarked that there is an associated "opportunity cost" with using VR technology. Some residents may find it more time-efficient to study texts, videos, or surgical guides rather than use VR. Cost (limited number of headsets) and technological barriers (i.e., hardware, software, and Wi-Fi issues) were some of the described barriers to VR utilization. Residents felt that there needs to be dedicated technological support to help with these issues. At this time, given these limitations of VR, many preferred VR as an optional educational adjunct rather than as a required curricular tool or assessment of surgical competency.Conclusions:There is current utility for VR in orthopaedic surgical training. Future technological advances may make VR more central to resident education. This study describes resident perceptions about the technology and best use practices for the technology.Level of Evidence:Qualitative Study, Level V Evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number00142
JournalJBJS Open Access
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 20 2024


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