The simulation concept has long been used in many industries; aviation, military, and nuclear power facilities. These have used simulation to recreate complex scenarios that are either physically or financially impossible to otherwise accurately duplicate.
Now that list includes healthcare, as many fields, such as anesthesia and laparoscopic surgery, have started to require simulated training, and as a result, the technology has evolved at an accelerated pace.
An increasing number of medical schools and academic medical centers around the country have joined the simulation trend in recent years, but few have interdisciplinary centers like the UW Health Clinical Simulation Center, located within the University of Wisconsin Clinical Sciences Center.
The 6,500-square-foot center, designed by Flad Architects, brings state-of-the-art simulation techniques to the hospital and university, allowing medical students, faculty and staff to hone their skills in a truly realistic way, 24 hours a day.
“UW Hospital and Clinics is a large academic medical center hospital serving the clinical, research, and teaching needs of the State of Wisconsin,” explains UWHC President and CEO, Donna Katen-Bahensky. “The Clinical Simulation Center allows us to fulfill all of our missions. As an organization, we had identified the need from an educational standpoint and were aware that other hospitals had used simulation to improve clinical quality and to enhance the efficiency of clinical operations. It started as an interest on the part of leadership and became a full-fledged commitment when we recruited our new Chair of Surgery, Dr. Craig Kent— who had the vision and we had the interest. After Dr. Kent’s successful recruitment, we identified the space, the budget, and the administrative and physician leadership to make the strategic interest and vision a reality.”
UW Health leadership—and surely the leadership of manyother facilities and systems that have undertaken simulation programs of late—understood that perhaps more than any part of the organization, asimulation programhad the opportunity to bring performance improvement to clinical, research,and teaching activities in one integrated program and physical facility.
Especially in teaching hospitals like this one, the simulation center is the one safe place where people can learn from mistakes without doing harm to patients, while working together to develop the valuable individual and interdisciplinary team skills that lead to positive outcomes. The Simulation Program may be physically focused on the Simulation Center, but its reach extends to every corner of the facility.
“Through simulation,we can set up scenarios so staff can see how they would handle a potential safety issue or a rapidly declining patient,and how they would communicate and work together in a real situation,” says Katen-Bahensky. “In the case of healthcare, practice does make perfect.”
Location, location, location!
While many simulation centers are located in out-of-the-way areas of facilities, the decision was made at UW Health to place its Simulation Center in a prime location. The simulation experience begins before visitors even enter the Simulation Center proper.
“Because we are an educational facility, we felt it was important to educate the public,” says UW Health Clinical Simulation Program Administrative Director, George R. Keeler, MA, MBA. “The wall that runs just outside of the Simulation Center, therefore, is a timeline of significant events in the history of simulation, from flight simulation to the first human manikin in 1960 right up to the present.”