Saving Lives With Simulation

Recreating real-life scenarios for entertainment or education has become a mainstay in Central Florida, an industry that rivals tourism as a significant cog in our local fabric.

Video games simulating everything from fast-action sports (Madden NFL) to intense war games (Call of Duty) are crafted in Orlando. Much of the simulation our troops use to train for combat is created here as well, much to the credit of the Orlando-based National Center for Simulation. And in the medical community, simulation is saving lives.

Today, everything from nurse’s rounds to heart surgery can be simulated. Training can range from high-tech mannequins to role playing, testing skill levels and behavior. Once used to assist medical professionals in reducing missteps in surgery and general practice, it is now being heralded to train medical students.

At the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Isaac Morris assists medical students with honing their skills. A patient mannequin who can speak, perspire and has a heartbeat, Isaac is the type of simulation that permits students to avoid the old school sink-or-swim training on real patients.

“It allows medical students to learn and practice their clinical skills, to learn what to do and what not to do before they ever hit the hospital wards,” says Dr. Analia Castiglioni, director of the UCF College of Medicine’s Clinical Skills and Simulation Center. “This technology helps students learn—and fail—in a low-stakes environment.”

The 7,500-square-foot state-of-the-art center at UCF allows students to gain hands-on experience with essential skills such as obtaining a medical history, developing treatment management plans, and counseling patients. It also serves other medical institutions by training residents, nurses and physicians.

According to Beth Brunner, CEO of Orlando’s 25-year-old Emergency Medicine Learning & Resource Center (EMLRC), simulation is now a key component in delivering education and lifesaving training techniques.“ The EMLRC provides education to close to 5,000 of the nation’s emergency care providers each year and utilizes human patient high-fidelity simulators more than any other medical education entity in the United States,” says Brunner. She says EMLRC’s annual advanced life support competition draws EMT and paramedic teams from all over the world.

Currently, the organization employs Caesar, a human dummy simulator that prepares first responders when real-life emergencies call them to the test.To enhance its training, the EMLRC moved into a new, 9,400-square-foot facility in south Orlando this year offering more space for on-site life-saving educational courses.

So important is simulation to the future of the medical industry, State Senator Denise Grimsley and Representative Cary Pigman, an emergency room physician, co-sponsored SB/HB 1036 in 2014 to lift the cap on the amount of simulation training allowed in clinical education from 25 to 50 percent. Dr. Castiglioni says, “Simulation shows how we use technology to improve the training of tomorrow’s physicians.”


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Written by Kevin Fritz

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