VALS consists of two components; a manual skills training program and a laparoscopic skills assessment-the VALS test.
Manual Skills Training Program
The manual skills training program consists of 2 phases;
Phase 1 is remote training ideally performed independently at the trainee’s home institution. The required equipment can in part be low cost or even home-made to decrease investment costs.
Phase 2 is focusing on laparoscopic suturing and this phase is greatly enhanced by participation in a hands-on laparoscopic suturing training course. Some VALS centers offer training courses directly preparing for the VALS test. Phase 2 VALS training, for a limited number of trainees, may also be available as a pre-congress laboratory at the ACVS surgical summit. In addition, some laparoscopic training courses offered for MDs and DVMs are providing excellent hands-on training. PLEASE note that there are some differences between the FLS test (skills test for M.D. surgeons) and the VALS test; most notably in the extracorporeal suturing task. Each of the 2 phases are described in detail in the tab VALS training program-for the trainee.
The training program consists in total of 10 sessions; each is designed for approximately 45 minutes of training. The trainee follows instructions on provided video tutorials. A general rule is that training sessions are spaced with no more than 2 sessions per day. One session per week is ideal. The rest between sessions gives the trainee opportunity to internalize the learning.
Assessment VALS test
After completion of the training program the trainee can schedule a laparoscopic skills assessment at a VALS test center or at ACVS pre-symposium laboratory. A trained VALS proctor (not always a surgeon) provides instructions and records time and error. The VALS test takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
For the participant who achieved a VALS score exceeding the passing level, a VALS certificate is awarded. Please note that mere participation in VALS testing does not guarantee a VALS certificate. VALS certification does NOT guarantee that a surgeon has extensive experience of minimally invasive surgery in clinical practice, but merely that he or she has achieved a VALS score indicating manual skills competency. The VALS certificate is valid for 5 years. After this time the participant can retake the VALS test. Repeating the training program is not required.