TCU’s Simulation Surgery Program Provides Opportunities for Physicians to Acquire Skills for Facing Their Patients’ Needs

On September 19-23, TCU sponsored a Simulation Surgery Program. A total of 61 attended this program, and among them, ten were TCU students, fifteen were students from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, one was from Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland, one was from the University of California, San Diego, and 34 physicians came from Tzu Chi General Hospitals. During those days, Silent Mentors’ families, Masters from Jing Si Abode, physicians, TCU’s president, faculty members and students expressed their gratitude to the Silent Mentors for their altruistic giving and wished them the best.

TCU pioneered the Simulation Surgery Program in 2002. It’s quite different from traditional “gross anatomy,” and instead, has been carried out similarly to how surgeons conduct surgical procedures. TCU named these willing body donors “Silent Mentors.” Silent Mentors need to arrive at TCU within eight hours after their passing, and they are placed in a freezer upon arriving. When they are ready to teach, they are first warmed themselves up for several days, so these Silent Mentors are like real persons, except that they don’t have any heartbeats. The Simulation Surgery Program is provided to two groups of people, namely medical students, who are going to graduate very soon, and those who have been practicing medicine. This program provides participants with 43 different procedures. The basic surgical skills program is for medical students, and TGY training program is for experienced physicians.

The eight Silent Mentors were Hsiang-Yu Chung, Chiu-Lan Li, Shun-Cheng Chen, Chiu-Hsiung Huang, Yi-Sheng Su, Hsiu-Mei Hung, Feng-Chi Chang, and Chi-Hung Lin. On behalf of TCU, President Ingrid Y Liu expressed her gratitude to the eight Silent Mentors and their families, for their altruistic giving. Many Silent Mentors were Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s disciples and Tzu Chi volunteers, and during their lifetimes, they were devoted to helping others. After passing, they gave of themselves, assisting medical students and physicians to acquire their surgical skills. President Liu pointed out that humane physicians always think about enhancing their medical skills, knowledge, and compassion. As a result, Silent Mentors have become the students’ best teachers, and have taught them about the meaning of kindness and compassion by their personal examples. President Liu also thanked the Masters from Jing Si Abode, Professor Guo-Fan Tseng, the Medical Simulation Center staff and volunteers, for making great efforts to include humanistic culture and altruistic spirit in the program, from beginning to end. She wished our medical students will cherish the opportunity to practice, as physicians, and put the Silent Mentor’s altruistic giving in their hearts.

The hospital and clinic have acquired more and more high-tech medical equipment. Tzu Chi General Hospital director, Dr. Guan-Jin He, pointed out that in order to cope with this trend, the program provides ultrasound and medical imaging to assist attendees. At the end of each session, participants were required to take written exams or carry out actual procedures. The purpose of the Simulation Surgery Program is to familiarize medical students with basic surgical skills, before they perform any surgeries on their patients; furthermore, it is for experienced physicians to gain advanced skills and to realize what they might encounter while operating on their patients.

The participants presented a song entitled “You are bodhisattvas” during the gratitude ceremony. They expressed gratitude to the Silent Mentors and their families, for their selfless giving. One TCU student, Yu-Ren Zhang, dreamed about how panicky he felt, while facing his patients, but not anymore. He has learned from these Silent Mentors, and he will be able to face his patients’ births, aging, illnesses and passing. He also wished to follow in his Silent Mentor’s steps and spread this love around.

“I have learned chest tube insertion from this program. The Silent Mentor didn’t care how many mistakes I made, and meanwhile, he always encouraged me to keep going.” A short while ago, Dr. Yuan-Huei Liao encountered a patient at Tzu Chi General Hospital, who was in serious need of a chest tube insertion. At that time, she could do nothing about it, except asked her supervisor for help. Now she has acquired the needed skill, and if she faces a similar situation in the future, she will handle it well.

TCU’s vice president Jui-Hung Yen presented a plaque to each Silent Mentor’s family during the gratitude ceremony. After the Silent Mentor’s cremains returned to TCU, a portion of them were placed in a crystal urn and later put in TCU’s Great Giving Hall. This is for Silent Mentors’ families, TCU faculty members, staff and students to reflect on their memories.

Mei-Fang Su is the daughter of Silent Mentor Yi-Sheng Su. Her parents had loved each other for seventy years, and both were Tzu Chi volunteers, as well as Silent Mentors. Her parents believed that physicians want to do their best to help their patients, therefore nurturing their own kindness and compassion, as well as acquiring needed skills, are necessary. Thus, her parents chose to be Silent Mentors. Her mother participated in the program that took place in October 2018, and her father attended this one. Her parents wished their students to learn as much as possible from them.

Master Der Yu from Jing Si Abode pointed out that, TCU’s founder Dharma Master Cheng Yen appealed to the public to make meaningful decisions and perform good deeds, which inspired TCU to initiate its Silent Mentor Program. These Silent Mentors had made the best use of their lives, and justify a legacy of love to us. We would like to express our best wishes to all of them. Master Der Yu also wished the families will care for their parents continuously and serve others energetically. Master Der Yu also anticipated all participants would follow in the steps of their Silent Mentors, to serve their patients with humanism and Great Love.