Comparison of a silicon skin pad and a tea towel for learning a simple interrupted suture

Sarah Baillie, Rachel Christopher, Alison Catterall, Adam Kruydenberg, Karen Lawrenson, Katie Wonham, Peter Kilfeather, Sheena Warman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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There has been rapid growth in the range of models available for teaching veterinary clinical skills. To promote further uptake, particularly in lower-income settings and for students to practice at home, factors to consider include cost, availability of materials and ease of construction of the model. Two models were developed to teach suturing: a silicon skin pad, and a tea towel (with a check pattern) folded and stapled to represent an incision. The models were reviewed by seven veterinarians, all of whom considered both suitable for teaching, with silicon rated as more realistic. The learning outcome of each model was compared after students trained to perform a simple interrupted suture. Thirty-two second-year veterinary students with no prior suturing experience were randomly assigned to three training groups: silicon skin pad or tea towel (both self-directed with an instruction booklet), or watching a video. Following training, all students undertook an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), placing a simple interrupted suture in piglet cadaver skin. The OSCE pass rates of the three groups were silicon skin pad, 10/11; tea towel, 9/10; and video, 1/11. There was no significant difference between the model groups, but the model groups were significantly different from the video group (p < .017). In conclusion, the tea towel was as effective as the silicon skin pad, but it was cheaper, simpler to make, and the materials were more readily available. In addition, both models were used effectively with an instruction booklet illustrating the value of self-directed learning to complement taught classes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-522
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Veterinary Medical Education
Issue number4
Early online date15 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • surgical skills
  • suturing
  • simulation
  • low-fidelity
  • models
  • clinical skills


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