It’s really amazing to see this manikin respond just like a human being,” Carol Papp, dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Bridgeport, said of the simulated patient to be used in the Introduction to Medical Simulation course the school is launching.
While other institutions have offered simulator training for medical clinicians, Bridgeport is focusing on the engineering side of the equation to address the growing need for technical experts who can handle the mechanical and computer aspects of medical simulation devices.
Registration for the five-week program opened on April 1 and the classes begin on May 20.
“It’s open not only to our engineering students, but also to engineering students in any other schools who are here for the summer,” Papp said. She explained that while manufacturers of the medical simulation devices do provide some basic training to purchasers of their equipment, the complexity of manikins and the computer systems needed to run various medical scenarios requires specialized training of the simulation specialist who controls a device.
“We decided this would make us truly unique in engineering to be in the forefront of simulation education and training,” she said.
The university got into the field in phases, first conducting a study to determine what gaps exist in medical simulator education before committing to a new course. “You do have plenty of programs for the clinician but not for the simulation lab technologist, so that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s the gap we’re trying to fill with this program,” Papp said. If the course this summer is deemed a success, they’ll make an effort to develop a more in-depth program.
Papp said the manikins typically have five computers driving the embedded robotics, which replicate human responses to certain situations. Those responses can include pupil dilation, increased or decreased heart rates, lung sounds and more. Simulation is a new way to teach while preserving patient safety and quality of life, “so that clinicians can learn on a manikin rather than on a person,” Papp said.
If a clinician does something wrong while running a medical treatment scenario which would, for example, result in a real patient having a heart attack, the manikin responds with a change in vital signs just as would be seen in a human.
In addition to the nursing or physician clinician practicing on the manikin, personnel who are skilled in handing the technological aspects of the equipment need to be involved in the planning and execution of the simulation scenarios.
Students enrolled in the University of Bridgeport’s medical simulation program will learn about the device operating systems, programming techniques of computer networks and medical terminology, among other things.
“This is the first interprofessional course taught by experts in engineering and nursing so it really is a collaborative program between the engineering department and the nursing department,” Papp said. “The outcome we’re looking at is that they will understand the fundamentals of the technology in health care simulation.”