Medical students practice procedures in a simulated reality

Intubation Saves Robo-child; Sim-infant Delivered Successfully; Colonoscopy on Mannequin Man Comes up Clean.

Are these the headlines of the future?

The not-so-distant future, perhaps, as Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine have forged into new and exciting territory for the Winnipeg health region with the development of the Clinical Learning and Simulation Facility (CLSF). The $4.6-million, 11,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility officially opened on Friday, April 11 to media, students and health-care stakeholders.

“It’s an innovation for the Winnipeg health region which will help prepare medical students and health professionals to deliver high quality, safe health care. Our goal is to provide the best health care possible,” says Dr. Brian Postl, Chief Executive Officer of Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

The environment closely duplicates the urgency, complications and uncertainty of real-life medicine. The facility houses a realistic hospital-like environment with 17 examination rooms, each equipped with a diagnostic headwall of blood pressure cuffs, otoscope, thermometer and medical gas columns, heart rate monitors, and intravenous carts. Five new anatomically correct robotic mannequins – permanent patients in the ward – emulate breathing and have simulated pulses and reflexes. Haptic-based software, which combines sense of touch and movement with visual and audio responses (much like a Wii game), allows simulated procedures to mimic the look and feel of real medical procedures and surgeries.

The facility will be used for training and education for medical students, post graduate students, and practitioners in medicine, medical rehabilitation, pharmacy and nursing, along with faculty members and Winnipeg health region health teams and emergency personnel.

“The Clinical Learning and Simulation Facility exemplifies how the University of Manitoba and its partners and supporters work together,” says Dr. Em?ke Szathmáry, University of Manitoba President and Vice-Chancellor. “Its seamless location between Health Sciences Centre and the University’s Medical Program reinforces collaboration.”

CLSF was funded by Winnipeg Regional Health Authority ($1-million), The University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine ($1-million), and Faculty of Medicine donors ($1.6-million) and developed in partnership with Province of Manitoba departments of Health and Science, Technology, Energy and Mines. The provincial government’s $1-million contribution was provided through the Manitoba Research and Innovation Fund.

“It’s exciting to see new technology put to use in such a great learning environment,” says Health Minister Theresa Oswald. Oswald was able to try out the technology by using an endoscope – a medical instrument consisting of a long tube which is inserted into the body for diagnostic examination and surgical procedures – on a simulated patient. She also watched a simulated birth of one of the mannequin infants at the facility. “This is going to improve the learning experience and make sure these students are ready to give the best care possible when they graduate,” she adds.

Human actors from the Faculty of Medicine’s Standardized Patient program will also portray realistic medical scenarios to further sharpen students’ examination techniques, technical and clinical abilities, and team communication skills.

At the official opening, fourth year medical student Cam Birdi pointed out that students in Winnipeg have been gaining strong clinical skills training thanks to the actors acting as patients within the standardized patient program, but with the Clinical Learning and Simulation Facility students will benefit further from a more realistic clinical setting. “Students will gain the comfort level they need working in the environment of their future career,” Birdi says.

Exam rooms at the facility feature two-way mirrors to allow for immediate evaluation of students and digital video cameras for detailed review and teaching tools later.

The facility will be supported by the new Mindermar Professorship in Human Simulation, created through a $1-million gift from the Rady Family Foundation, Mindel Olenick, and Marjorie and Morley Blankstein. The professorship will develop and evaluate the educational programs which use simulated patients and standardized patient scenarios at the Clinical Learning & Simulation Facility. A University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine-appointed professor will be involved in the development, evaluation and research of educational programs.

The University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine, in collaboration with Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, will operate the new facility located on the univeristy’s Bannatyne Campus, next to the Health Science Centre.