Medical Simulators are devices used in the emerging field of healthcare simulation to educate and train healthcare professionals on specific clinical skills. Sometimes referred to as Patient Simulators, Medical Simulators go beyond full body patient simulators to also include smaller low-fidelity task trainers used to train specific skills, high fidelity surgical simulators, OB/GYN simulators and more. Medical simulators can be described as the devices used by healthcare professionals to train on during simulated scenarios.
Medical simulators are extremely important tools within the realms of healthcare simulation and education. These unique products usually represent parts or full-bodied life-like manikins that react to learner actions with real-time physiological responses, as if they were alive. The simulators are used to help educate students, train medical personnel, nurses, doctors, surgeons, anesthetists, midwives, rescue teams, armed forces military personnel and others seeking to practice their clinical skills.
Ranging from virtual reality and surgery practice products to skill and technique training modules, medical simulators help learners develop their practice before they ever work on a live patient. This simulated clinical experience helps alleviate the risk of error and potentially life-threatening outcomes to real human patients.
Areas of practice which medical simulators can provide assistance in include basic and advanced life support, clinical skills training, anesthesiology training, nursing skills, patient care training, diagnostic procedures, surgical and laparoscopic training and gynecological training. Furthermore, medical simulation can really be utilized in all aspects of medical education.
To serve their purpose, the life-like manikin products must all be manufactured to precise anatomical correctness. They must also simulate human soft tissue and tissue reactions to offer a realistic training environment with reliable technology. This makes the simulation process as life-like as possible.
Range of use
Common purchasers of medical simulators include universities, colleges and other educational facilities (including teaching hospitals and life support training centers). These facilities typically seek to offer their learners an extensive range of high-quality clinical skill trainers, medical simulators and complete skill lab set ups. This helps shape a learners overall education process through hands-on opportunities.
One clear benefit of medical simulation and the use of simulators is that the means of practice helps learners to perfect their clinical skills. The flexible learning styles involved in simulation are also especially helpful as the products can help cater to the exact needs of a learner. For example, while some learners prefer in-class instruction, others learn best when they are given the opportunity to test the intended skill themselves.
Additionally, medical simulators help learners train to improve their hand-eye coordination and force applications. Ultimately, simulation and the use of medical simulators works to close the gap between direct practice on a clinical patient and the theory involved in perfecting the skills necessary to best address their healthcare needs.
Examples of Medical Simulator Products
There are a wide variety of medical simulator products available, and they are often broken down by category. For example, the categories of medical simulators include Advanced Life Support (ALS), Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), Basic Life Support (BLS), clinical skills trainers, emergency rescue, gynecology, nursing skills and patient care, obstetrics, orthopedic workshop bones, simulated medications, simulation kids, TCCC training manikins, transesophageal echocardiography and virtual dissection tables.
Here is a break-down of each category:
Advanced Life Support (ALS): This category of medical simulators focuses on teaching skills to extend Basic Life Support to stabilize a patient. Skills necessary to do so include manual defibrillation, intravenous cannulation, laryngeal mask insertion, tracheal intubation and more. ALS manikins and simulators are designed into different age groups to equip resuscitation training facilities and course providers with high quality ALS training devices. The groups are:
- Adult ALS
- Pediatric ALS
- Neonatal ALS
- Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS)
Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS): These simulators are used to train healthcare professionals in the assessment, treatment prioritizing, early management and stabilization of critical trauma patients. Skills taught with ATLS manikins include:
- Surgical skills
- Manual skills
- Diagnostic skills (like airway and ventilation management)
Basic Life Support (BLS): These medical simulators are designed with life-like features to aid in effective life support training, and to enable hands-on practice for every learner. Additionally, BLS manikins provide learners with different types of feedback on their performance.
Clinical Skills Trainers: These products are used to equip specialty labs and skills labs in universities and teaching hospitals. They are especially useful for learners to demonstrate, practice and assess skills such as auscultation, suturing, laparoscopy, chest drainage, ultrasound and more.
Emergency Rescue: These manakins come in a variety of shapes and sizes to prepare learners for all body types potentially encountered in a rescue. These hands-on training for emergency response and rescue products can also be equipped to withstand fire, land and water rescues.
Gynecology: Medical simulation has developed manakins to be used as an effective part of teaching gynecology. The scenario-based simulation training offers learners the chance to develop clinical core competencies in gynecological examinations and procedures, practicing on trainers and simulators that provide life-like scenes of normal, complicated and rare procedures.
Nursing Skills And Patient Care: Practicing the assessment of patients, training nursing procedures, as well as clinical and emergency training is part of all nurse aide training programs. Medical simulation prepares nurse aid trainees for the care and management of in-hospital patients. Examples of clinical skills that such patient care simulators offer includes:
- Ostomy care
- Blood Pressure
Obstetrics: Medical simulators in the realm of obstetric emergencies are used to improve obstetric knowledge, technical skills, team work and structured communication and is used in obstetric emergency skills training programs. Scenario-based obstetric training objectives includes normal deliveries, common complications during delivery, as well as obstetric emergencies.
Orthopedic Workshop Bones: Orthopedic workshop bones and biomechanical test materials are a cost-effective alternative to real human bones. Their biomechanical characteristics give their strength properties similar to real bones.
Simulated Medications: These can be used to enhance a learner’s medical training with realistic looking medicines and supplies that a healthcare professional would use in real-life scenarios. Simulated medications may include a variety of IV bags, pre-filled syringes and medicine vials to be used as supplements and added realism to simulation training. They can also teach learners how to set up an IV bag, prepare a sterile injection, change central catheters and administer drugs.
Simulation Kits: This type of medical simulator is specifically tailored by area of medical practice (i.e. obstetrics, nursing, urology, etc.). Through high-quality anatomical models and charts, they help teach or explain subjects in a more comprehensive manner.
Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) Training Manikins (Trauma Manikins): These medical simulators provide guidelines for supplying immediate medical care for life-threatening injuries on the battlefield. The products differentiate three phases of casualty care, including care under fire, tactical field care and tactical evacuation care.
Transesophageal Echocardiography: Producing high quality imaging of the heart can often be challenging due to the position of the probe in the esophagus, located close to the heart. These simulators provide detailed anatomical and clinical knowledge of the heart, in addition to the practical skills needed to properly manipulate a TEE probe.
Virtual Dissection Tables: These medical simulators provide learners the opportunity to work on real patient cases. This leads them to becoming trained in problem-solving skills and more experienced. The goal is to then be able to transfer their theoretical anatomy knowledge to the presenting patient.
As the use of medical simulators in educational and training settings continues to evolve, healthcare professionals can expect to see a general increase in their use. Through this usage, the widespread adoption of this simulated learning opens the possibility of an alternative to the traditional didactic instruction, enhanced overall performance and possibly help in reducing errors.
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