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Teenage aspiring medical students operate surgical robot at Saint Alphonsus

Posted at 6:27 PM, Apr 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-03 20:27:48-04

BOISE, IDAHO — Robotics is the wave of the future in health care, according to Saint Alphonsus doctors. Now, those doctors are giving high school students hands-on experience with the robots they use to perform life-saving surgeries.

"Different than making a robot in your lab at home, you're actually getting to see how its used in real life and how it helps people," said Dr. Christopher Reising, M.D., General Surgery.

On Wednesday at Saint Alphonsus campus in Boise, several dozen students from Boise and Nampa school districts got the opportunity to try their hand on a surgical robot named Da Vinci. Like the Reinassance man it's named after, it's a sculptor-- but of our insides.

"It gets me more excited for the future, because this is what I can see myself doing," said Samantha Quantie, high school student in Nampa.

Quantie is an aspiring medical professional.

"We want to help people. We want to change the world."

She says she had seen it before on Instagram, but now-- alongside her peers-- she's getting the chance to use the robot on pig flesh.

"And manage the arms of the robot, and cut tissue, and cauterize tissue and feel what it's like to use the robot that I use every day upstairs," said Reising.

And while the clamp (seen in the video )may seem large and three-dimensional to the surgeon's eye, in real life it is only about the size of half of a pinky nail.

Reising says this type of surgery is less invasive, which he says results in less pain-- and in turn-- less opiate prescriptions.

Quantie gushed about the other benefits she had learned.

"There's way less scarring in this procedure and it can also be more safer because of the tremor in your hand," said Quantie.

For the past handful of years, the six or so Da Vinci trained surgeons at Saint Alphonsus operate on human lungs, hysterectomies, and colons among other parts.

"Robot esophagectomy-- we're the only place in the state of Idaho that does that," said Reising.

Quantie said she's even more excited to pursue a career in medicine now.

"We want to make people in a better situation than they were before. So if they have like cancer or something, we're there to provide comfort, and security, and care."

And Dr. Reising said he is inspired as well.

"Because this is our future right here."

--But he is not referring to the robot.

"These are our future surgeons, our future nurses our future engineers, and if there's anything we're doing today that inspires them, that's meaningful."