Improving patient outcomes is a constant focus for U.S. healthcare providers as well as patients and government agencies. Patient safety is at the heart of current healthcare quality improvement efforts in our nation. Enhanced patient safety through a significant reduction in medical errors will save the U.S. healthcare industry millions of dollars and, more importantly, thousands of American lives.
Education is the most powerful tool in our country’s efforts to further improve patient outcomes. Today, technology-based learning is a driving force. Generation X and Generation Y healthcare providers want to learn by doing, which reinforces the cognitive knowledge they obtain during formal lectures. The need to offer this diverse programming, meet the educational needs of clinical providers in the region, maintain the workforce, and provide safe patient care are the key principles behind the creation of the WakeMed Simulation Center (SIM Center).
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Located on the WakeMed Raleigh Campus, the SIM Center is designed to facilitate realistic clinical training and education for nurses, physicians, and caregivers. In the SIM Center, healthcare providers administer treatment to human patient simulators that can bleed, cry, breathe, and die. The simulators have heart attacks, renal failure, adverse medication reactions, and other issues—just like humans. The goal is to allow clinicians to practice their skills, learn from their mistakes, and gain confidence in their abilities in a controlled, yet realistic clinical environment. They also have the opportunity to keep their skills current for those high-risk procedures in which they need to maintain proficiency but rarely have the need to perform.
The technology to operate these simulators, as well as the unique educational experience they offer, drove the design of the 3,800-square-foot SIM Center. After overcoming the greatest design challenge that most hospitals face—finding space for a new service—a team was formed to ensure the design would support the SIM Center mission. Team members included the manager of the SIM Center, a director and project manager from Facilities Design and Construction, and WakeMed’s chief learning officer.
The simulation design team examined the layout of other centers around the country, keeping in mind that the WakeMed simulation center will have a regional focus. The majority of simulation centers nationwide are specific to one organization. The WakeMed SIM Center is available to healthcare providers throughout the community and region, making the A/V and technology requirements different. But, like other simulation centers, the educational methodology is the same: SIM Centers educate providers based on the concept that hindsight is 20/20 and that ⅔ of the learning process happens after the clinical experience in the debriefing. With this in consideration, the two patient rooms are each surrounded by debriefing rooms, where students and educators go immediately after the clinical experience, to review the video of the educational experience and critique themselves.
One of the “patient care” rooms is a flex space that can accommodate medical/surgical simulated patients or labor and delivery simulated patients, depending on the educational need. The other is a critical care setting. There is also a computer room where students can test their baseline knowledge of clinical practices and educators can learn how to operate the simulation equipment. Finally, there is a replica of a hospital nurses’ station, equipped with some pharmaceutical dispensing technology, computers, and other supplies that support the patient rooms.