December 27, 2022By Lance Baily

The SAFETY Project: Healthcare Simulation Approach to Medical Education

The push for more healthcare simulation learning experiences across medical education continues to expand as more organizations and institutions come to recognize the impact on patient safety and reduce medical errors. One such learning experience has been funded in Europe under the program ERASMUS+ Knowledge Alliances and is intended to widen the learning process in the medical field with high-fidelity guided experiences. Named “SAFETY ” an abbreviation for the “Simulation Approach for Education and Training in Emergency”, this initiative focuses on the development of a new educational course in the field of Emergency Medicine. This article shares more on the SAFETY Project, and how the project builds upon current teaching models.

This program is beings coordinated by the University of Foggia (Italy), under the lead of Prof. Gilda Cinnella, representing the research team in Anesthesia and Intensive care of the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences. The program lasts 36 months and involves 10 partners from 7 European countries (Austria, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Romania, and Spain) representing both Universities and companies’ environments. Ultimately, the project idea originated from “the real need to improve learning processes in the medical field.”

According to the SAFETY Project, the current teaching method across these regions is based on the old algorithm: “study, look, do, teach.” Project leaders believe this approach lacks safety for both the operator and patients. Under these circumstances, the healthcare staff (including physicians and nurses), is catapulted from university class to wards and are expected to practice on the patients first – putting them at risk of medical errors.

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The training materials developed by SAFETY allow learners to practice activities related to medical education in a safe environment without compromising patient safety. They also provide a wide range of curriculum requirements through clinical cases and role-playing. Further, simulator of procedures or full mission simulators can be utilized to help learners works through simulated scenarios, and often incorporate the use of high-tech manikins.

Additionally, academic and company partner cooperation has contributed to SAFETY’s mission to enlarge the scope of job placement for recent graduates. This allows them to become entrepreneurs in the field of medical devices and private training with simulation devices. The project also helps better position employees hired by companies that rely on medical device development/training.

Project Assessment To Date

According to the SAFETY project manager Fedele Colantuono (University of Foggia, Italy), all partners have been actively involved in different tasks during the first two years of the initiative’s implementation, bringing and sharing their own experiences and passion on this topic. These activities include desk research on higher education institutions’ training offers and simulation activities for emergency training (led by the Hospital Clinic Barcelona (Spain)). There has also been a training needs analysis and definition of the body of knowledge of the emergency simulation (led by the UniFg team (Italy)).

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In particular, the main activities were performed on the needs analysis (learners, academics, and companies), the gap analysis, and the preparation of the Body of Knowledge (BoK) – necessary to structure the new courses. To this aim, the applied methodologies were desk research on evaluation of the educational offer, literature review, collecting good practices on education, and training and investigation.

The project shared that, in parallel, three different questionnaires were developed and delivered respectively to learners (medical and nurses), academics (professors and trainers in the medical field), and companies involved in the healthcare simulation field. This was to understand their training needs and perform a gap analysis on the actual education system among EU-involved countries. The surveys involved 1464 students, 288 academics, and 23 companies from different EU countries (mainly Italy, Germany, Norway, Portugal, Romania, and Spain), collecting their training needs.

“Interestingly, results showed how students believe they have acquired good training skills for the approach and management of patients, in particular from the possibility of participating in practical medical simulation sessions,” the project’s website states. “Overall appeared a greater demand for courses based on emergency management, from a procedural and team management point of view, also with an interesting distinction on geographic distribution, between students from Northern and Southern European countries.”

The SAFETY Project added that these results were extremely useful in creating the reference framework for both theoretical and practical modules. This has helped to support the development of 25 clinical scenarios in emergency medicine. Through these scenarios, partners are now working to deliver future SAFETY training materials.
SAFETY has implemented an “EU student-centered approach.” This approach is designed to help structure new courses and educational pathways tailored to learners’ specific needs. Another goal is to utilize these pathways to solve actual training gaps.

“Given the great opportunity for cross countries’ cooperation, SAFETY will move forward on the creation of a European Training Network focused on the knowledge sharing, acquisition of technical and non-technical skills in order to prevent and reduce medical error in the Emergency field,” the project’s website additionally states.

More About ERASMUS+ Knowledge Alliances

Knowledge Alliances are transnational projects which bring higher education institutions and businesses together to work on common issues. The overall aim is to help strengthen Europe’s capacity to innovate and to support the modernization of Europe’s higher education systems. Knowledge Alliances focus on developing new, innovative, and multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning, and stimulating entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial skills of higher education and company staff. They also focus on the exchange of knowledge and working together on new solutions.

Knowledge Alliances offer the opportunity for organizations to develop a project that contributes to one of the focus areas above. They are open to any discipline and sector, as well as cross-sectoral cooperation. The partners of a Knowledge Alliances share common goals and work together towards mutually beneficial results and outcomes.

Learn More About the SAFETY Project

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