Working in healthcare requires extensive education and hours of rigorous training, and it’s clear why — nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals need to have extensive medical knowledge, and they must be prepared to handle any situation. It is of utmost importance that healthcare professionals are confident and knowledgeable so that their patients are safe. However, getting hands-on experience presents a bit of a challenge for emerging healthcare professionals — medical students need to practice important practical skills like inserting IVs, but having them try these tasks for the first time on real patients can be risky and put undue pressure on emerging medical professionals.
Simulation training provides an excellent alternative for both medical education and ongoing training for professionals who are already practicing nurses or physicians. Of course, hands-on experience with real patients is valuable as well. Still, simulation training allows emerging healthcare workers to build their confidence and acts as a transition from textbook learning to practical experience. Simulations create a low-risk environment where healthcare workers can make mistakes — after all, mistakes are often an important part of the learning environment. By using a simulation, nurses and doctors can make these mistakes and improve their skill sets without harming actual patients.
Before technology was advanced enough to create high-quality simulations for healthcare workers, emerging nurses and doctors had to use alternative methods to try to practice their skills. For example, students would often use an orange to practice giving injections or a piece of felt to practice surgical incisions. Needless to say, these methods are not nearly as realistic or practical as simulation training.
Human Patient Simulator
A fantastic example of simulation training in the medical field is the Human Patient Simulator, or HPS. Patient simulators have become increasingly advanced over the years, and contemporary models can breathe, blink, cry, sweat, and mimic most bodily functions. The simulators even have a heartbeat and a pulse and will display vital signs when they’re hooked up to monitors. They can even be programmed to display several different abnormal heartbeats to aid medical students in diagnosis! A high-quality simulator will also react to medications in the same way that a human patient would, allowing emerging medical professionals to see the results of their work firsthand.
A recent practical application of simulation training was the CAE Healthcare Academy’s Simulated Clinical Experience (SCE) for COVID-19. This simulation helped hundreds of healthcare professionals prepare for COVID-19 more effectively at the beginning of the pandemic. Simulation training is also being used increasingly to help students fulfill their clinical rotation requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. This allows PPE to be reserved for practicing physicians without slowing down the graduation of new medical professionals, who are needed more than ever during a pandemic.
Why Simulation Is Important
Simulation training can be particularly helpful in High Acuity Low Opportunity or HALO situations. These types of scenarios may include major procedures or serious illnesses that require expert care but aren’t seen very often. Simulation training allows medical professionals to practice HALO opportunities so that they are prepared when they encounter a patient with a rare condition.
Another reason simulation training is important for healthcare workers is that it helps to develop muscle memory. Consider the countless hours that professional musicians or famous athletes spend practicing the same tasks over and over again. This helps them to improve their skills and engrain the task in their body so that they can perform it easily. Medical professionals need the same opportunity to practice important tasks multiple times so that they can develop muscle memory for medical procedures. Simulation training allows emerging doctors and nurses to do this without any risk to real patients.
Simulation training may seem like a luxury at first glance, but the truth is that it is a necessity. 1 in 10 patients are harmed while receiving healthcare, and it is estimated that medical errors result in 2.4 million deaths every year. Simulation training allows healthcare workers to improve their patient care skills in a safe environment and become confident with practical skills before they begin treating real patients. Training using simulation has a number of benefits including reducing medical errors, improving patient safety, and learning other important hands-on skills like communication and teamwork. Using simulations can also help emerging nurses and doctors to improve their decision-making skills.
In order to maximize the potential of simulation training, it is important that it’s implemented effectively. Simulation training is so much more than just technology, and it’s crucial to include elements like a debrief and discussion after the simulation to ensure that the simulation is integrated with the curriculum. It’s also important to remember that simulation training isn’t just used for students — it can also be very helpful to refresh and improve the skills of medical professionals who are already practicing. Using multiple different patient scenarios can also be helpful when implementing simulation training. No two patients are the same, and the more you can recreate this in simulation training, the more medical professionals will learn. There should also be a range of difficulty in patient scenarios. Spreading out the simulation training over multiple days is generally a good idea to facilitate maximum learning.
It is clear that advances in technology have helped training and education in the medical field significantly. In addition to simulation training, there are many other forms of virtual learning that can benefit healthcare professionals. For example, virtual conferences are more accessible than in-person gatherings because they can be attended by healthcare workers from all over the world. Additionally, online courses and certifications are safer than in-person classes during COVID-19 because they don’t require in-person gatherings. Online learning is also more convenient for healthcare professionals because it allows doctors and nurses to complete courses at their own pace. ProMed Certifications has online certification and re-certification courses for CPR, PALS, BLS, and ACLS. All course materials meet AHA and ILCOR guidelines, and all of the courses have a 100% money-back guarantee.