The Michener Institute set to use live CT machine as part of simulation enhanced education

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The Michener Institute is one step closer to building a 21st century healthcare learning environment with the completion of a brand new MRI/Ultrasound/ CT simulation suite decked out with a live CT machine.

Thanks to GE Healthcare, the institute recently obtained the previously-owned, 4000 pound imaging device to add to their state-of-the-art simulation suite.

“The CT scanner was the missing link in our program,” said Lorraine Ramsay, chair of Graduate Imaging. “We had all the pieces in terms of equipment for the simulation suite but we didn’t have a CT scanner.”The acquisition makes The Michener Institute one of two post-secondary facilities in Canada to have a functioning CT unit for onsite training, something that Ramsay says will change the way simulation-enhanced education is provided to students in The Michener Institute’s imaging programs.

Simulation-enhanced education is one of the primary components of The Michener Institute’s healthcare curriculum. Students learn and practice their skills in simulated hospital environments, thus making them better prepared for what they will encounter when they enter clinical practice.

For students in imaging programs such as Nuclear Medicine, Radiation Therapy and Radiological Technology, the arrival of the CT scanner means actual hands-on training in the use of the imaging device and the delivery of accurate patient CT examinations.

“Students will actually input all the technical specifications in a simulated format and will scan a phantom and end up with a specific result,” said Sue Crowley, Faculty, Radiological Technology. “They (students) are going to be able to manipulate the data that they get and see what happens when they change some of the parameters as well as learn why some results are better than others.”

Crowley added that the use of the CT scanner will provide imaging students with the competencies required to transition seamlessly into their clinical placements, thereby accelerating the influx of trained imaging technologists into the healthcare system, which would ultimately help to significantly reduce wait times for CT examinations in Ontario.

“Clinical settings are looking for our students to be more clinically ready to work in CT. The more we can do upfront, the less time it takes for a student to step in as a member of the healthcare team and the less impact it has on waitlists as well,” she said.

Peter Robertson, general manager, Diagnostic Imaging GE Healthcare, contends that the modality of CT has undergone several radical changes in the past decade and it is therefore crucial for the next generation of CT technologists to receive adequate education and training.

“With the advent of multislice scanners and the accompanying rapid increase in resolution, decrease in acquisition times and radiation dosage, a whole new range of clinical applications have emerged that are changing the way CT is used today and will be in the future,” said Robertson.

“GE is committed to providing the best possible learning experiences and environments for its customers. This partnership with the Michener Institute provides GE with the opportunity to aid in the development of the next generation of CT technologists. Giving our future caregivers the opportunity to learn on a modern CT platform will give them the foundation they will need to be successful.”

This summer, The Michener Institute will begin teaching third year Medical Radiation Sciences students in the CT simulation suite and training will include three 2-day sessions specific to the operation of the unit.

But in the same way that The Michener Institute’s newly acquired CT scanner will be used to train future imaging professionals, it will also enable those already working in the field to upgrade their CT proficiency.

“The trend in Radiological Technology is that there is an increased number of procedures done under CT rather than under conventional radiography,” said Ramsay. For this reason, she says current technologists need to be competent in CT.

By Fall 2008, the CT scanner will be integrated into The Michener Institute’s curriculum to benefit current and future healthcare students as well as practicing imaging technologists who want to learn how to perform CT.

But both Ramsay and Crowley contend that the CT curriculum will go far beyond showing students the operation of the device.

“We can now simulate the whole continuum of a complete CT examination whereas previously our students were only able to examine images on a computer,” says Ramsay.

“We can now demonstrate to students the proper placement of a patient on the examination table, the acquisition of an image by phantom and then use the computer workstations to manipulate the images.”As with all other programs offered at The Michener Institute, interprofessional courses will also be incorporated into the CT curriculum. These courses will demonstrate to students, through various simulated scenarios, how different healthcare professionals work together in a clinical CT environment to provide patient care.

Ramsay says all this will create a more pragmatic simulated experience for imaging students enabling them to transfer their skills and knowledge to new situations that they may face in their professional working environments.

With the debut of the MRI/Ultrasound/CT simulation suite underway, The Michener Institute’s imaging department has already moved to the next phase of enhancing the simulated education of their students. They’ve recently acquired a post-processing lab for the manipulation and reconstruction of scanned CT images.