June 28, 2011By Lance Baily

Dr. Gaba Talks at UNR Medical Simulation Program

Dr. Gaba, the “Godfather of Simulation” provided a talk at the University of Nevada School of Medicine and the Orvis School of Nursing about the history, methodology and future of healthcare simulation on Tuesday in Reno.  Dr. Gaba was invited to open a 4-day course on simulation taking place over the next several months for Northern Nevada healthcare providers sponsored by Pfizer.

This program coincides with UNSOM’s opening of the new William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building, which is three stories tall and over 57,000 square feet!  It holds wetlabs, massive lecture halls, 3 sim labs, a 12 room SP hall, a skills lab ward and is the new home of the Orvis School of Nursing.

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University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine Sim Building
William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building

Some highlights from Dr. Gaba’s talk included:

  • Feels that simulation is a technique not a technology.
  • Believes simulation is probably pre-historic as our ancestors most likely simulated hunting engagements with each other before heading into the wild.
  • Simulation Fidelity is a property of how simulation is conducted and suggests the following articles with regards to realism:
    • Deepening the theoretical foundations of patient simulation as social practice Dieckmann P, Gaba DM, Rall M – Simul Healthc. 2007,2:183-93
    • High fidelity, high performance Scerbo MW, Dawson – Simul Healthc. 2007, 2:224-30
    • Which reality matters? Rudolph JW, Simon R, Raemer DB – Simul Healthc. 2007, 2:161-3
  • Recommends everyone sign up for IMSH and checks out the Simulation in Healthcare Journal including the “Utstein-style Simulation Research Agenda Conference” publication which will be out later this month.
  • Believes that the Public is the ultimate driver for pushing simulation into required educational practice and wonders how we activate public support without scaring them?

Dr. Gaba reminds us that “no industry in which human lives depend on the skilled performance of responsible operators has waited for unequivocal proof of the benefits of simulation before embracing it… neither should anesthesiology (healthcare).”

As a techie, what I found most fascinating was Dr. Gaba’s photos and reflections from his pioneering work in the 80s at Stanford.  Dr. Gaba explained how he combined his medical and bioengineering background to shape the world’s first computerized anesthesiology simulator.

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Gaba Simulator

Dr. Gaba and his team combined wave form manipulators, a compaq computer, a macintosh 512K and a nelcor pulse ox device to form a rudimentary simulation experience.  I was fascinated to learn that not only did Dr. Gaba program the computers in APL (which he learned as a teenager) but also made all the healthcare setting sound effects with a microphone!

Dr. Gaba suggested to me that a great article about the history of simulation can be found in the October 2004 (Volume 13 Suppl 1) Quality and Safety in Healthcare Journal, titled A brief history of the development of mannequin simulators for clinical education and training by J B Cooper, V R Taqueti.

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