The mission of the Simulation Center is to use current applications as well as create new ones. We are fulfilling the first part by incorporating numerous models and simulators into the curriculum at a wide variety of educational levels. The equipment ranges from simple part task trainers and mechanical models through computer programs to virtual reality simulators.
But it is not the equipment that makes this center unique. Rather, it is the multi-departmental collaboration to develop novel applications that makes us stand apart from other facilities. Having equipment is only the beginning. From the start, educators must understand that it is the teaching objective, the lesson plan, which drives the development of a successful educational session. Once the objectives are in place, the instructors can look to the equipment to find the most suitable tools to teach their lesson. In some cases, the task trainers are sufficient to get the ideas across. In other cases, the life-like reactions and realistic environment of the human patient simulator are necessary in order to drive the points home. Below are a few examples of courses that are offered.
Successful teaching sessions also require thoughtful feedback from the instructors. In many advanced sessions, time spent on the scenario itself is a small fraction compared to the time spent debriefing and discussing the scenario afterwards. Quality debriefing is critical to the success of these sessions, but does not come automatically. Sally Rudy led the development of a series of courses that teach instructors to more effectively use simulation as an educational tool by teaching them debriefing techniques, educational theory, assessment, and other tools. Offered courses include a half-day Introduction to Teaching with Simulation Course, a more comprehensive week-long Simulation Instructor Course, and an advanced Using Simulation for Assessment Course.
The center is also helping to create programs in critical areas where competency must be demonstrated in the lab prior to working with real patients or to maintain certification in a medical specialty. The Department of Anesthesiology offers Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesia (MOCA) courses to residents, faculty and outside practitioners. The Department of Surgery certifies residents, faculty and outside users using the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) testing program.
Certification courses offered at other American College of Surgeons Accredited Education Institutes can be viewed on their Calendar of Events.
Many of the applications in the Simulation Center have been developed around specific areas in resident and student curricula where we felt that current models or teaching methods were not as effective as they could be. One such example is resident orientation. The First Three Days in Anesthesia (F3DA) was the first program, begun in 1994. So far, both Anesthesia and Surgery have used these resident level introductions in the first week of residency, and Medicine and Emergency Medicine are using a modified orientation program distributed throughout the first several months.
Outreaches to the local community as well as to charitable healthcare groups worldwide is a priority for the Simulation Center. The center has participated in training for local school districts and for Operation Smile, a program for caregivers in countries throughout Central and South America.