Sept. 24, 2019 — On unit 44 of the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, a team of residents, nurses and patient care assistants rushes into a patient’s room as the sound of a Code Blue alarm echoes through the hallway. Decisions are made, instructions are given and treatment is administered. The patient breathes, coughs and has a pulse just like the patients in the other rooms on unit 44, but there is one major difference: This patient is made primarily of plastic.
The pediatric human patient simulator exercise on unit 44 is just one example of the health care simulation technology at UF Health, made available through the UF Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation. In honor of National Healthcare Simulation Week Sept. 16-20, the center held a number of activities, including simulation exercises in the hospitals and an open house with walking tours of its facilities in the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building Friday morning.
Tom LeMaster, director of operations for the UF Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation, said the open house served as a platform to share what the center offers for students, faculty and staff.
“We can immerse folks in low-frequency, high-risk events,” he said. “If they experience that with us, they can handle that situation better next time.”
LeMaster said National Healthcare Simulation Week was the perfect opportunity to showcase the growth the center has experienced over the past year.
“We’ve increased usage of the center 30% every month over the last year,” he said. “We’re seeing more learners and more lives touched.”
Part of the simulation center’s growth includes expanding its leadership. Rosemarie Fernandez, M.D., was appointed research director for the center in July, and her responsibilities involve creating and maintaining policies and procedures so that the center meets standards for accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. She also assists faculty in gaining research and scholarship opportunities for their work in simulation.
Fernandez has long had an interest in the benefits of health care simulation. In 2004, she became the director of the simulation program at Detroit’s Wayne State University. Her own research measures the effectiveness of team-based patient care using simulation. She calls the simulation center her laboratory.
“Simulation improves patient care and team processes to increase the effectiveness of care delivery,” Fernandez said. “We want simulation truly integrated into clinical practice and education to make the system of care and the quality of care safer for all.”
Olivia Butters, M.D., a chief pediatrics resident at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, observed the simulation on unit 44 on Friday afternoon. She said simulations like this, which are always followed by a debriefing and discussion of the successes and challenges, occur about twice each month.
“These simulation trainings are vital for both resident education and for maintaining excellent patient care,” Butters said.
Ari Maya, a second-year medical student who took a tour of the Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation to learn more about the human patient simulators at hand, left the open house feeling a new sense of appreciation for the technology available at her fingertips.
“It was cool to see how many resources are available to us,” Maya said. “I didn’t realize how advanced the technology here is.”