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Getting Started in Patient Simulation

Patient simulation is spreading rapidly.  As an example, just a few years ago only one or two community colleges were using patient simulation.  Today, almost all of the community colleges and a hand full of four year and universities use patient simulation on a routine basis.  How did those institutions get started with patient simulation?  Here are some suggestions based upon our collective experiences.

Core Faculty Group
It is imperative that a core group of faculty, perhaps two or three in number, champion the use of patient simulation.  That means finding members of the core and sending them off for training and providing sufficient patients, equipment, and facilities to support them. If at all possible, make the Core Faculty interdisciplinary.  It benefits all students and shows administration how innovative and inclusive you are. Once patient simulation is being used for a group of students, the utility of simulation will spread.

Administrative Support
You must have at least one administrator who has caught the fever for simulation.  That means helping the administrator to understand the importance of simulation in the learning process and the wonderful expected outcomes.  This is not a fad.  It is a time proven method for educating students.  Go visit existing simulation facilities and be sure to bring along that administrator to see first hand the potential outcomes. 

Money
Getting into patient simulation is not that expensive.  A single, very useful patient, may cost less than $10,000.  Find out how much it costs to put AV equipment into one classroom.  You and your administrator may be shocked how much less a simulated patient may cost.  Have a foundation?  A grants person? A continuing education segment?  Try them all to fund  just one patient.  Simulation is rather like potato chips.  You can't really just have one.  More will come as you do demonstrations with your one patient.   Name the patient.  Have the patient speak (in a real voice) to visitors. Make it personal and make it real. 

Space
One patient, one stretcher or bed, and you are ready to go. All the equipment like headwalls, crash carts, etc., will come later.  First you have to win over supporters through demonstrations.  I know of a demonstration using a single patient, in a fairly....no, it was an ugly room....and it resulted in more faculty understanding the benefits and an administrator who later funded two more patients. 

Bottom Line
Start with one simple, easy to use patient simulator.  Demonstrate the benefits to as many people as you can find.  Get trained.  Visit established facilities.  You are always welcome to visit us at SIMS Medical Center. 

Need help?  Give us an email.  We will be happy to assist. 

Mike Foss
mfoss@stcc.edu

413.755.4840

 

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