Suture workshop offers crucial introductory ophthalmic training to WVU medical students

Suture workshop offers crucial introductory ophthalmic training to WVU medical students

A training workshop hosted by the West Virginia University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences is helping teach medical students some of the valuable skills necessary to perform delicate ophthalmic procedures.

The Department hosted a suture workshop on Wednesday, April 26, for the students in the Ophthalmology Interest Group at the WVU School of Medicine. The purpose of the workshop, hosted by professor and director of medical student education Geoffrey Bradford, M.D., and assistant professor and residency program director Bradley Thuro, M.D., is to introduce students to the importance of dexterity for ocular surgeries.

“When it comes to ocular procedures such as suturing, we as ophthalmologists are quite literally threading the needle,” Dr. Bradford said. “It’s important that an ophthalmic surgeon’s hands remain steady in order to pass the tiny needles we use carefully through sensitive parts of the eye, using suture that is often finer than a strand of human hair.”

Bradford added that these procedures are also performed under high magnification, making hand steadiness even more important for an ophthalmologist to possess. He said these skills are some of the most important tools in an ophthalmologist’s toolbelt and that learning and practicing them early, even as a medical student, is crucial.

The suture workshop began with an introductory lecture led by Bradford and Dr. Thuro, followed by a hands-on training session. Students were given a needle and thread, which they practiced suturing on pieces of raw chicken. As students practiced their suturing techniques, guidance and assistance was provided by faculty members, as well as some of the fourth-year medical students in the interest group.

Among those students in attendance was third-year medical student Sarah Shabih, who said she appreciated the opportunity to work on honing such important skills in a controlled setting.

“Hands-on training opportunities like this are probably some of the most valuable experiences a medical student can gain,” Shabih said. “I really enjoyed the chance to get to learn from and work directly with the ophthalmology faculty. As someone who is relatively new to the field of ophthalmology, I especially appreciated the fact that I got to do it in such a positive and judgment-free setting.”

Bradford said this is exactly the atmosphere these workshops are intended to promote, and that he hopes that students find value in the trainings and leave the sessions with a sense of accomplishment and a continued interest in the field of ophthalmology.

“Through these workshops, we hope to encourage interested medical students to consider ophthalmology as a future career in medicine. As an instructor, I enjoy observing the expressions of accomplishment on students’ faces as they gain dexterity and confidence while practicing during the suture workshop. It is my hope that the students enjoy this experience as much as I do,” Bradford said.

To learn more about the opportunities available for medical students through the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, visit