Lifewatch: Mannequin simulators in the classroom

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Surgical residents get their medical training in hospitals, but some of the best experience they get comes from simulated patients at University Medical Schools.

At the U's Simportal Simulation Center, instructors are using mannequins who can cry, bleed, and talk.

"The patient simulators really mimic reality and the residents and students get lost in the scenario and they don't realize they're working on a doll or a mannequin," said Surgical Simulation Co-Director Jeffrey Chipman.

A new study out of Wake Forest University shows med students clearly learn more in these patient simulation scenarios.

"Med students and residents will frequently say that they, the scenario that they practiced in the simulation lab they encountered later that day or later that week in the hospital," said Dr. Chipman.

"I already have in my mind a structured way of thinking after seeing this patient which I'm pretty sure I'm going to encounter," said first year surgery resident Dr. Juan Jose Blindet.

The life-like mannequins are usually used to teach a task, like a surgical technique, but the U is among those schools leading the way using mannequins to teach residents how to quickly assess a patient's scenario and better use hospital resources.

"We'd like to more formally have this as a component to a lot of surgical education programs throughout the country," said Dr. Jonathan D'Chunha with the University of Minnesota Medical School.

The concept of simulated patients is catching on with the military as well.  Military medics use the dummies to emulate injuries like amputations and open wounds.