Medical simulation technology has come a long way since 2014, when the Aberdeen Hospital first established its Clinical Simulation Lab – the only one of its kind in the region. This dedicated training space is used to aid in the enhanced skills training of health care workers by re-creating patient care scenarios in a realistic and safe environment.
“Simulation-based learning has continued to evolve,” said Nancy MacConnell-Maxner, director of Nova Scotia Health’s student and learner placement program. “It really is an opportunity for people to learn best practices in the safest way possible.”
Simulated lab sessions are regularly used for new and existing staff across disciplines, from doctors and nurses to pharmacists and paramedics, and in recent years these sessions have been instrumental in training COVID-19 airway management methods.
The lab consists of three simulators or mannequins, affectionately known as Pete, an adult male, Jean, a birthing mother, and Braxton, a pediatric patient. The clinical educator can set up various patient treatment scenarios with the mannequins, enabling staff to enhance skills and change practices in a team-based, hands-on learning environment.
With advances in the technology, aspects of the Aberdeen Hospital clinical simulation lab equipment were becoming outdated. Just as it did when the lab was originally set up, the Aberdeen Health Foundation stepped up to provide the needed funding for a brand-new lab pad and monitor, the interface which programs and runs the simulations.
“Continuing to stay up to date with the technology has made a significant difference in how we’re able to provide education to staff,” said MacConnell-Maxner. The new interface will allow for the continued use and optimization of the existing clinical simulation lab equipment and mannequins.
“For us in the Emergency Department, the biggest benefit for simulation (training) is being able to practice high-acuity, low opportunity scenarios,” said Dr. Daniel Dittaro, a physician at the Aberdeen Hospital’s Emergency Department. “Scenarios that we see maybe once or twice a year, if that, but yet are critical events that need to be managed appropriately.”
Clinical educator Chanda MacDonald sees the addition of new equipment as an opportunity to continue with high-level training and professional development. “One of the things simulation allows us to do is train as a team,” MacDonald said, when asked how the simulation lab benefits translate to patient care. “When we train as a team, we work better together as a team. We can practice scenarios that were challenging in the past, and this improves the outcome of the patient experience.”