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Simulation Training Enhances Learning in Harvard Medical Community


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Simulation Training Enhances Learning in Harvard Medical Community

By Jock Hoffman, CRICO

Related to: Communication, Emergency Medicine, Primary Care, Nursing, Obstetrics, Other Specialties, Surgery, Teamwork Training

Simulation-based training—computerized mannequins, scripted scenarios, virtual procedures, and so forth—is one of the fastest growing trends in healthcare education. “See one, do one, teach one,” with real patients, is increasingly being supplemented by “practice makes perfect,” with plastic patients.

The original simulation mannequin, Resusci Anne, who debuted in CPR classes almost fifty years ago, now shares the training stage with dozens of her more life-like fellows, in more realistic settings. With skilled instructors running authentic scenarios, simulation-based medical training has passed from a training curiosity to a training advantage. Medical students, residents, and attending physicians are able to try new equipment, learn new techniques, practice procedures new to them (or ones they’re “rusty” on), make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes, with no risk to patients or providers.

Simulation training can be offered in many forms and environments, from two individuals sitting in chairs, role-playing physician-patient interactions, to surgical teams working out of a multi-station, high-tech surgery skills center. Harvard Medical School and numerous other U.S. and foreign academic institutions have wholeheartedly adopted simulation-based training, not only for technical mastery, but also for improving teamwork and leadership skills.

As mandates, requirements, and accreditation drive demand, the competition for training resources, equipment, and expertise will, no doubt, accelerate. Accrediting organizations and professional societies, such as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the American College of Surgeons, and the Society for Simulation in Healthcare are leading the push for setting standards or establishing accreditation processes for simulation-based training.

Allegations of inadequate technical skill were made in about one-third of all claims filed against CRICO-insured providers over the past ten years—and in 43 percent of cases naming a surgeon.

With more than $105 million in incurred losses at stake, CRICO and the Harvard medical community are working to reduce preventable errors, using simulation-based training and practice, by offering a broad range of simulation-based programs and skills training across multiple locations, disciplines, and curricula.

Does simulation training work? Hard evidence that simulation improves patient outcomes and/or reduces adverse events is not available…yet. However, we think that the value of simulation-based training eventually will be supported by statistical credibility. In the meantime, rather than asking, “does it work,” why not ask which program will work for you?

September 1, 2007
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