Medical Simulation Lab Makes All the Difference in Education

Published: 2014-08-08

Here’s something you never want to hear from your doctor or nurse: “Congratulations! You’re going to be the first person I’ve ever tried this procedure on.”

Yet even if no one ever actually says so, lots of people will have to be first for every young practitioner, right?

Not necessarily.

Today some nursing students get a chance to try out new techniques on high-fidelity human patient simulators rather than live patients. That’s why, at Glacier Hall, the new allied health building for Modesto Junior College in California, and at the Redbud building at Columbia College in Sonora, the simulation center is at the core of nursing education.

Both facilities belong to the Yosemite Community College District, which serves a 4,500-square-mile area extending from the Central Valley of California into the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Thanks to the help of Beaverton, Ore.-headquartered CompView Audio Visual, the technology they use is among the nation’s most advanced. Yet how it is applied to the learning process may surprise you — and present ideas for your own healthcare clients.

Human Patient Simulation

Because patient simulation is so important to this nursing program, the SIM center at Modesto, which opened in September 2012, includes four simulated hospital rooms. Each has a single bed and a human patient simulator from CAE Healthcare, Laerdal Medical or Gaumard. There’s also an observation/control room and a debriefing room. The SIM center at Sonora, which opened last year, has just two patient rooms, but each holds two beds and two simulators.

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In addition to the human patient simulators, the patient rooms each include three pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras and a ceiling-mounted microphone to record the exercises; a simulator microphone and loudspeaker so that the instructor, acting as the patient, can speak to the nurse; an LED monitor to display vital signs; and an intercom system that allows instructors and students to interact.

Normally student nurses work in teams of four, practicing the various responsibilities of patient care and reacting quickly should an emergency occur.

“It’s important to understand, however, that as interesting as the simulation exercises may be, it’s the debriefing where the real learning takes place,” explains Scotty Gonser, instructional support specialist for the district’s Allied Health Department.

For example, in one exercise a frustrated cardiac patient pulls a central line out of a vein that sits close to his heart, causing catastrophic bleeding. The students have to run through the correct emergency procedure with only moments to save his life.

Related: Top 5 Healthcare Market Integrators

“Sometimes the students do very well,” Gonser says. “Sometimes the ‘patient’ dies. Either way, there’s usually an ‘ah-ha moment’ where each student says, ‘that’s what I should have done.’ Yes, the student will remember going through the exercise, but seeing herself make a lifesaving decision or a crucial mistake — well, that’s not a mistake she’ll make again.”

Because the debriefings are so critical, they are recorded on video as well as the exercises. Later on, the appropriate students will be able to review the instructor’s advice and their own reactions, and that, too, can reinforce learning.

In a similar way, the support staff records all of the lectures students attend, whether they are present in person or attending via video.

“The Sonora cohorts receive pretty much all of their classroom instruction via teleconferencing,” Gonser explains. “It saves them 113 miles of roundtrip travel, making it possible for many to attend who otherwise couldn’t. And of course all of the students have the benefit of reviewing the material recorded using the same system.”

Posted in: News

Tagged with: Cisco, CompView, Extron

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