Medical simulation, aka Healthcare Simulation, is the modern day methodology for training healthcare professionals through the use of advanced educational technology. Simply put, medical simulation is the experiential learning every healthcare professional will need, but cannot always engage in during real-life patient care. Medical simulation has also been called healthcare simulation, simulation in healthcare, patient simulation, nursing simulation, surgical simulation and clinical simulation.
Medical simulation derived from the aviation industry, which has utilized simulation-based learning practices to train pilots since just after the First World War. Simulation allows for the safe training of learners engaging in activities that would otherwise be too dangerous to practice. For example, it is far too risky (and expensive) to send a new 747 jumbo jet pilot 40,000 feet into the air and practice a 3-engine failure drill. Whereas with a hyper-realistic hydraulic-enabled simulator a new pilot could learn to perform such maneuvers while safely on the ground. In the same fashion, during a real-life emergency a patient’s life cannot be risked to learners without the proper certification to perform possible life-saving procedures. However, the need to train healthcare professionals in the team-based communication, cognitive thinking and skills-based action necessary during such a stressful situation is vital to successful patient outcomes.
During a fully immersive medical simulation learners enter into a realistic healthcare setting where a high-fidelity patient manikin is being wirelessly operated by both educational and simulation technical staff. A manikin can also be called a patient simulator, medical simulator, nursing simulator or even a surgery simulator. The patient simulation is usually digitally streamed live to other learners and recorded for playback during the debriefing process. A facilitator, usually the educator, will provide the voice of the patient and also guide the technical control of the manikin for the duration of the experience. Usually that same individual then debriefs the learner and the rest of the class together utilizing video playback to recap performance outcomes. It has been said that the real learning takes place during the debriefing where the collected group can engage in a facilitated and safe conversation to identify errors and mark successes.
Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists (or Sim Techs) can be present to run the hardware and software of all of the technological components necessary to ensure a realistic medical simulation. Manikins have been developed for a range of patient presentations by several companies including Laerdal, CAE Healthcare (formerly METI), and Gaumard to name a few.
Medical simulation can occur in the field for military or first-responders like EMS and Fire Departments or in hospital settings for nursing, medical or other allied health professionals.