Simulated Realities: Cutting edge Training for Clinicians

Sep 28, 2011

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The Simulation Centers at Washington University are committed to the broad application of simulation-based solutions in medical education and research. There are a total four centers, which provide a wide array of simulated environments including standardized patients who play realistic roles, dedicated skills labs, and sophisticated computer-driven mannequins with fidelity so close to reality that they help span the gap between theoretical learning and clinical practice.

Given the importance of the anesthesiologists in the emergency and operating rooms, the Department of Anesthesiology is deeply integrated into the rapidly evolving field of clinical simulation. “We need trainees to develop good judgment and diagnostic skills so that they can be ready to solve complex problems,” says Dr. David J. Murray, director of the Howard and Joyce Wood Simulation Center, the Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Professor of Anesthesiology, chief of pediatric anesthesiology, and anesthesiologist-in-chief at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“We want to help them move through the diagnostic process to step two or step three, to keep up the detective work that will help them determine what the problems are,” he explains. “If they do something that should make the patient better, but it doesn’t, then what?”

Often practicing medicine doesn’t always go ‘by the book’. Simulation technologies and techniques have advanced rapidly, now providing risk-free methods that contribute to the mastery of clinical skills.

With funding from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of the Department of Health and Human Services, Murray and colleagues believe they are improving patient safety by training medical teams not only to be better at diagnosis, but also faster and more skilled under pressure.

“It’s all about education, for medical students and the health care professionals working on the floors of our hospitals,” says Murray. “Education is more than just training. It involves teaching people to think on their feet. We want to reinforce the importance of being situationally aware, then have them take these skills back to the hospital so that when real patients are involved, they can use the skills acquired in these scenarios to prevent complications and save lives.”

Outlook, a magazine published by Washington University in St. Louis, recently published an article on Dr. Murray and the Simulation Centers. Most of this content was taken from that article.

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