NASHVILLE, TN — Medical and dental simulation is increasingly playing a more important role in the way doctors, dentists and other health professionals are trained.
Because modern health care is constantly evolving, and new and complex technologies are coming online to aid in the treatment of more advanced medical and dental procedures, simulation is needed to teach future physicians and dentists the skills needed to perform in real life situations.
Recently, Meharry Medical College opened two state-of-the-art simulation centers that allow students to learn and replicate medical and dental procedures in a controlled and stress free environment. The Pamela C. Williams, M.D., Simulation and Clinical Skills Center is an 8,000-square foot facility used for the simulation of medical procedures such as operations, medical examinations, and deliveries of babies. The Delta Dental Simulation Lab is a facility within the Meharry School of Dentistry that features 30 workstations where students simulate dental procedures from routine cleanings to complex root canals, all while being videotaped and observed by faculty and other students. It was made possible by a $750,000 donation from Delta Dental of Tennessee, the largest dental insurance provider in the state.
Meharry’s simulation equipment is some of the most high-tech on the market today, with manikins that mimic human reactions so well that some can even shed tears.
Regina Offodile, M.D., associate director of the Pamela C. Williams, M.D., Simulation and Clinical Skills Center, said simulated situations provide an avenue for students and residents to train without putting patients at risk. She said simulators help students learn important skills such as team building, critical-thinking, decision making, and how to perform under pressure.
“We are able to run high fidelity simulation for the medical students to experience realistic medical situations,” Dr. Offodile said. “It will enable team building and allow them to understand how to respond in critical situations.”
Meharry’s dental simulation lab has been a game changer for teaching preclinical dentistry, said Suzette Marie Stines, DDS, FACDNA, FICOI, director of the Delta Dental Simulation Lab. Human-like robotic patients create a virtual reality for students and cutting-edge technology allows for students to receive instant feedback on their clinical skills.
The technology is so advanced that the manikins are able to analyze the hand movements of the dental students to assess if they are preforming a procedure correctly.
“We are better able to prepare our students for their transition to live patients,” Stines said. “We are able to allow them to build confidence and skills in a superb facility.”
Stines said the lab has also allowed the dental school to improve its faculty-student ratio. The pre-clinical dental students are now divided into two groups, one in the simulation lab and another in the clinic. Dividing the class has improved faculty/student ratio to about 1/9 in preclinical classes.
“We are able to give the students much more personal attention,” Stines said.
Meharry’s simulation facilities will also serve as a resource for the community offering continuing education courses to the community and Meharry’s alumni.
SimMan 3G is a wireless full-body manikin/simulator that serves as a simulated patient. He’s so lifelike that he can talk, breathe, shed tears, and even bleed. He can be programed to simulate countless medical conditions and even has the ability to go into cardiac arrest. When given a medication, SimMan provides the appropriate physiological response. Students can perform procedures on SimMan that range from a basic blood pressure check to a complicated surgery.
NOELLE® Maternal and Neonatal Birthing Simulator is a full-body, female, advanced childbirth simulator that provides a complete birthing experience before, during and after delivery. She is so realistic that studentdoctors can actually listen to her baby’s heartbeat. She is able to dilate and she can even bleed from the cervix. Students can monitor her vitals on monitoring equipment in the simulation center.
Newborn Hal is an advanced neonatal patient simulator that looks like a newborn baby. He comes to life with pre-recorded crying sounds. Hal’s chest rises and falls while breathing and he can even turn blue when deprived of air. Students can monitor his breathing and his heart-beat and he can be programed to more than 20 scenarios that help students prepare for the critical care of newborns.
Pediatric HAL is a pediatric simulator that looks and acts like a five-year-old patient. His eyes move, he has a pulse, and a heartbeat. His breathing pattern can change and his lung sounds can range from normal, to wheezing, to a crackling sound that may indicate a respiratory disease. His skin allows students to attach real electrodes and defibrillator pads so they can track cardiac rhythms on their own equipment just as they would with a human patient.
DentSim simulators track the students’ hand motions and display their performance against an ideal performance. The students are able to use these units to develop selfevaluation skills necessary to be a successful practitioner.
ADEC Simulators are manikins that provide a realistic experience for dental students. The students are able to practice proper operator positioning and indirect vision. They have full air, water and suction capabilities. The students are able to learn to operate with the correct levels of irrigation as well.
CEREC (Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics) Units are dental units that allow students to practice restorative dentistry such as creating crowns, veneers, onlays and inlays. Meharry has ten CEREC units. Thanks to this new technology, students are able to complete CEREC restorations on live patients in one visit. Such procedures required multiple patient visitsin the past.