Hands-on learning at hospital with new patient simulators

Today marked the grand opening of the Northern Clinical Simulation Centre located in the Fort St. John Hospital. In total there are three new simulators: an adult male, a birthing female and an infant. Health care students, staff and physicians will be able to use them to learn and practice basic medical care skills using the robots, as well work in customizable scenarios.

Betty Morris, Northern Health's Chief Operating Officer for the Northeast, says that when she was learning to become a health care professional, programs like this didn't exist.
"The development and use of the patient simulation technology is definitely on the rise, and it's really an integral part now to health care professionals' education," she says. 
In addition to having a variable pulse and lung resistance, the simulator can also be shocked with a defibrillator, and is equipped with speakers that can play recorded sayings and sounds, like vomiting, or be used to interact with an instructor. Morris argues that those features, along with being in a room that looks like and has the same equipment as a standard hospital room, creates a realistic environment to learn and practice in.
"It really develops their confidence," she says, "so as a staff person, being able to start an IV, or do an intubation, or any of those things, and learn as you go on the spot is really important to improving your own confidence in your skills and you really can perform when you're under pressure."
Northern Clinical Simulation Centres Coordinator Michael Lundin adds that another bonus is the removal of the instructor from the room, so students have to think for themselves.
"Previously traditionally people were in the room with an instructor at the same time and they were looking towards that instructor and the instructor's giving them clues," he explains. "Now you can actually assess a patient itself."
They're also able to take a moment to discuss what they're thinking at the time, which isn't possible with real patients.
This is the fourth such facility in Northern Health hospitals, after ones were opened in Prince George, Quesnel and Terrace last year. It was created through a partnership between the health authority, the University of Northern B.C. School of Nursing and the University of B.C. Northern Medical Program. Annual operating costs are estimated at $500,000.