October 19, 2023By Kirk Atkinson

Why a MakerSpace Should Be Part of Every Healthcare Simulation Center

When utilizing the latest clinical simulation technologies, there will inevitably come a time that requires a healthcare simulation technician to make unique repairs. How will a medical simulation program prepare for this inevitability? While there are external technical support service providers like the MeLiSA program from Echo Healthcare, some simulated healthcare programs also build a “Makerspace”. This HealthySimulation.com article by Kirk Atkinson, Senior Simulation Operations Specialist at the University of Texas Southwestern, discusses what maker spaces in healthcare simulation centers and the general use of a tailored space for innovation.

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The general Oxford definition of a makerspace would be a place where people with shared interests can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge. In healthcare simulation, many of what seem to be random aspects and attributes of the medical simulation center’s design can provide the opportunity to explore a makerspace. A healthcare simulation makerspace allows simulationists to focus on the improvement of the existing medical simulation training through innovation and creativity.

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Whether the need is repairs for preventative maintenance or preparation for a specific medical simulation activity, having a devoted space for these tasks is beneficial to the work and the technician. A makerspace provides a great space for the storage of items related to the preparation and repair of healthcare simulation equipment. A repair or preparation project becomes increasingly tedious with every additional trip out of the room for a tool or a prop. A consolidated maker space for repairs, innovation, and preparation streamlines any related task and creates a differentiation of in-simulation and out-of-simulation areas to allow for a maximum psychological buy-in of the end healthcare simulation participant.

A healthcare simulation makerspace has so much potential for innovative growth and expansion of capabilities and technologies. A dedicated area within the medical simulation center that focuses on innovation can create a sense of appreciation for creativity and proactiveness. Thereby bolstering the creative process more than if such a space was not available to a healthcare simulation maker. A designated workspace that is not primarily a storage room or closet and is devoted to the maker’s mindset can be both an enjoyable and prosperous environment.

Healthcare simulation makerspaces can be a proactive approach to the ever-changing industry of medically based simulation as a whole. The healthcare simulation industry has a history of continuously upgrading and adopting new technologies. Some of these upgrades and adoptions are meant for the healthcare industry, while other such innovations have a general reach in the audience. With a medical simulation makerspace, a medical simulation program has an area within the facility dedicated to all new concepts in innovation and creativity that benefit a healthcare simulation program. This receptive nature can lead to the discovery of innovations and technologies that may be outside the realm of medicine but still have something to offer a medical simulation design.

A creative industry that is almost a perfect fit for a makerspace is the technologies of silicone and ballistic gel. Most who have worked with these creative mediums know that the process is anything but clean, and the storage can also be just as messy. A medical simulation makerspace is the ideal place for not only the processing of silicone and gel works but also for storing a medium that seemingly gets on everything once the top of the container is opened. Storage of a curing silicone or ballistic gel creation away from idle hands is also important, as some silicones and gels have rather long curing timeframes that can exceed six hours. A healthcare simulation maker space is the best place to keep a delicate silicone or gel mold safe from anyone who would curiously poke the mold with their fingers, which is almost a certainty.

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One new technology that is slowly making inroads into healthcare simulation is 3D printing. A technology that is finicky at best will most likely require a controlled environment to complete the printing process. A healthcare simulation maker space is a fitting space for all involved in additive manufacturing (3D printing). From basic single filament printing to complex desktop metal manufacturing, the medical simulation makerspace can accommodate 3D printing in all forms while maintaining flexibility for the changes and demands of this technology, like humidity control or adequate space and ventilation.

While a medical simulation makerspace is not required to accept new technologies, upgrades, or ideas, the space puts any healthcare simulation center on the right path for keeping up with the expanding field of medical simulation technology.

An added bonus to having a makerspace for creation and innovation is that the space can draw in and help creativity in almost anyone who steps into the workspace. The taking nature of creativity and innovation that emanates from a healthcare simulation makerspace can enliven the minds of even the general passerby who would peek in and see a bounty of ideas coming to life. Having such a space within a medical simulation center that sparks ideas and helps foster the creative process brings to life designs or concepts from many perspectives and walks of life.

A healthcare simulation program is already an undertaking of advanced techniques and technologies to help propel medicine forward and for the better. Having a healthcare simulation makerspace in the center is a proactive and highly useful inclusion that reinforces and helps guide the undertaking of those advanced techniques and technologies. This type of space aims to encourage and inspire all who enter to be creative and innovative in the name of moving medical simulation training to new heights. The investment in a healthcare simulation makerspace is a safe investment with a potentially large return if utilized properly by a healthcare simulation team with vision and spark, hence the entirety of healthcare simulation.

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