Playing doctor for REAL!
Practice is important when learning any new skill, but how do you practice for the life and death situations that can arise in a hospital emergency department?
On Friday evening, around 50 students from the University of Sydney, School of Rural Health got as close as you can get to a real emergency department experience, during the school’s now annual trauma simulation (Sim).
The students, alongside surgeons, anaesthetists and registered nurses, were presented with simulations of real-life trauma cases using special hi-tech mannequins like the one pictured.
“In previous years we've had high-speed motor vehicle accidents with significant chest wall injuries, in other years we've had ‘patients’ who've fallen from ladders and have hit their heads when they've been on medication to make those sorts of injuries high risk, so any sort of big ED presentation we try to mimic,” said Tracey Rolfe coordinator of clinical skills with the University of Sydney.
“The reason we like to do it this way is we can use the mannequins in a safe, simulated environment, that we can teach real clinical expertise on. The students are immersed and they are actively learning, and we hope that it arms them with great skills.”
Emergency physician, Dr Melanie Berry said simulation has become an important tool for learning in emergency medicine and critical care specialties.
“We can use a ‘patient’ who has all the injuries that a patient with trauma will have, but we are able to practice the techniques to get slick essentially,” said Dr Berry.
“That means when the actual trauma patient comes who’s hemodynamically compromised, their blood pressure is dropping and their heart rate is going up and they are about to die, then we are able to do everything very quickly in a very procedural manner… Sim offers you that opportunity to practice in a safe environment and then you can step in and use those tools in those very stressful moments.”
Even though it is just a simulation, Dr Berry said it can still feel very real when you are involved.
“It can be emotionally challenging,” she said. “It is teaching people how to work in teams, teaching people in a stressful environment, where you can just hear the heartbeat and the blood pressure, how to manage that pressure environment… what we are trying to do for our students is get those core skills in and making it as realistic as possible.”