LapSim 1 372x451 - TSTC Surgical Technology student applies gaming experience to laparoscopic simulator

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – It is fascinating to consider that a video gamer’s hand-eye coordination and response time could easily translate to the realm of a LapSim ST, a laparoscopic simulator used by students for lab purposes in the Surgical Technology program at Texas State Technical College.

That is exactly the case for Celestino Salazar, who is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Surgical Technology at TSTC. His time spent playing video games in his youth has transitioned very well to his experience in the Surgical Technology program.

“Playing Mario and other games when I was little helped with my hand-eye coordination,” he said. “Moving forward, a virtual reality game app I play is called Surgeon simulator. The basis is you are a surgeon and you have to keep the patient alive. This correlated to the LapSim ST – it’s the same concept.”

The LapSim is an intuitive program that gives useful feedback for the students and provides them with a detailed list of what they excelled in and what needs improvement.

Marissa Gonzales, a clinic coordinator in TSTC’s Surgical Technology program in Harlingen, said it is great to see how well these students are familiarizing themselves with and adapting to the laparoscopic simulator.

“When they practice with the LapSim, a student can interchange instruments and experience what a real procedure would be like utilizing the various modules and simulations that (it) provides,” she said. “Our students will master the skills needed to assist surgeons in the operating room.”

Salazar described how practice is perfecting his skill with the LapSim.

“When I first did a module, I drifted too much and … failed the practice,” he said. “By my third attempt, I realized what I had to do, and I passed because it was just like my virtual reality game.”

Salazar’s plan is to become a traveling surgical technician, and he has a long-term dream of becoming a medical surgeon.

According to, surgical technologists can earn a yearly median salary of more than $49,000 in Texas. Jobs are expected to increase 14% in the state by 2028.

TSTC offers Surgical Technology at the Harlingen campus, where students can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree.

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