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NMCSD Opens Medical and Surgical Simulation Center

December 21, 2008

By Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Jake Berenguer
SAN DIEGO –A patient lies in a hospital bed surrounded by hospital staff doing a routine examination and suddenly his blood pressure plummets and his heart stops. Immediately, the staff fly into action to resuscitate the patient using all of their skills and training. This is all happening according to plan as an instructor watches and evaluates their reactions and abilities to utilize their training in a practical environment in the new Medical and Surgical Simulation Center (MSSC).   
Commander, Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) Rear Adm. Christine S. Hunter and Capt. Gregory Blaschke, MSSC medical director cut the ceremonial ribbon December 12.  The MSSC was a 2008 initiative and is the newest addition to the medical center's training and education arsenal providing medical personnel the opportunity to test their skills on simulated patients.
“The simulation center uses high-fidelity human patient mannequins, 10 patient rooms and 1 operating room to train and assess the communication, interpersonal, professional, team work, physical exam and diagnostic reasoning skills of learners,” said Blaschke.  “It is anticipated to provide about 5,000 simulations per academic year and is open to all medical and nursing students, interns, residents, fellows as well as practicing professionals throughout the medical center.  The facility will provide continuing medical and nursing education and training to all medical center clinical staff.” According to Cmdr. Ramona Domen, assistant medical director for MSSC, this advanced technology allows hands-on medical training ranging from basic intravenous needle insertion to cardiac arrest resuscitation.
Some of the simulated patients are made for specific procedures such as laparoscopic surgery or bronchoscopy. All members of the medical team including doctors, nurses, interns, residents, and hospital corpsmen can utilize the MSSC. 
“The MSSC provides an actual patient environment with real medical equipment to allow the users a feel of realism and maintain that sense of urgency that they need in real life situations. With eight interactive stations having full high fidelity, computer driven bodies, each provides a different challenge to the user,” said Domen. “High fidelity means that if they don't get immediate, efficient attention, the simulated patient will expire.  Students need to know how to react correctly, effectively and as a team to diffuse these problems.  There is a simulator that enacts emergency child birth situations and another to practice anesthesia problems. Computers monitor all of the simulated patient's physiology (heart rate, blood pressure, etc) and show reactions to the student's interventions. ” 
The MSSC also contains 30 task simulators. Each task simulator allows practice for different skills such as suturing, spinal tap and intubation. Users will be monitored from a distance by instructors who have the ability to instigate an emergency situation with each simulated patient by computer.
“The simulators are more than anatomically correct,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Leonard Ray, director of professional education leading petty officer. “They have drug reactions enacted by a computer that monitors the student's response. They have replaceable skin to practice injections and incisions. Some have pupils that dilate; they can bleed and even moan and cry.”
Plans for the 10 room, $780,000 MSSC include a classroom where users will be observed as they perform medical tasks unaided and will be monitored to test critical thinking abilities. After the procedure is completed, users will be debriefed on performance, and the task outcome will be recorded in a student database. The main purpose of the MSSC is training and education. The simulators are a valuable tool for all levels, whether an intern is making his or her first incision or an experienced staff member practices a new procedure.
“This will benefit NMCSD immensely by helping to develop medical skills. Through training and repetition we can prepare the users for real life situations,” said Domen.

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