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MedStar Innovatively Prepares its Surgeons for Thyroidectomy

Dr. Erin Felger, MD, is a surgeon in Washington, District of Columbia and is one of 64 doctors at MedStar Washington Hospital Center who specialize in Surgery. She received her medical degree from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and has been in practice for almost 20 years. Her clinical areas of focus are Endocrine Surgery, Parathyroid Surgery, Thyroid Cancer, and Adrenal Disorders.

Dr. Felger and researchers at Simskin LLC jointly developed the Thyroid Surgical Trainer. The Thyroid Surgical Trainer is a detailed training model to simulate multiple thyroid procedures. The device provides the opportunity for surgeons’ and general surgery residents to gain exposure and increase their proficiency for thyroid and parathyroid surgical procedures.


Erin Felger and Simskin LLCBy the end of a five-year clinical residency, general surgery residents must show competency and technical skill in a variety of areas that encompass the fundamental body of surgical care (e.g., outlined in the Surgical Council on Residency Education - SCORE - Patient Care Curriculum).

In theory, most general surgery residents should be able to acquire the required competency and technical skill in most of these areas through exposure to these areas during their residency. However, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and other regulatory bodies have limited general surgery residents to an eighty-hour work week.

The limited workweek often limits the general surgery residents’ exposure to one or more of the areas that encompass the fundamental body of surgical care, including thyroid surgeries (e.g., thyroid lobectomy). General surgery residents may not exhibit the required competency and technical skill related to areas with limited exposure.

To tackle the need for a surgical training tool, Dr. Felger submitted an invention disclosure to MedStar Inventor Services (IS). A Non-provisional patent application was filed in April 2015 and is currently pending. Additionally a design patent application was issued on March 10, 2015. The Thyroid surgical trainer has been exclusively licensed SimSkin LLC.

By collaborating with MedStar Inventor Services Dr. Felger’s idea of the thyroidectomy surgical trainer was successfully realized.