North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine students are eight months into their education and already they have performed physical exams on patients, cleared an obstructed airway and even assisted in the birth of a baby at the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Center for Learning and Innovation and Patient Safety Institute, located in Lake Success. While none of these procedures were carried out on real people, they certainly had the look and feel of true-to-life situations.
“The exposure to simulation exercises, at one of the largest institutes of its kind in the country, certainly gives our students a wonderful opportunity to learn and strengthen their clinical skills at an early stage in their education,” said Lawrence Smith, MD, dean of the School of Medicine.
Simulation education is a bridge between classroom learning and real-life clinical experience. CLI’s advanced learning facility features state-of-the-art human-simulation laboratories with digitally enhanced and controlled mannequins and partial- and full-body task trainers, standardized patient rooms, and endovascular simulators for interventionalists. CLI helps students manage hypothetical patient cases as members of a multidisciplinary health care team. The exercises are followed by a debriefing with the med school faculty and the CLI staff, which is comprised a multitude of complementary health professions.
“Our students are exposed to these simulation exercises much earlier than at most medical school, which would normally cover this material in the third year. This gives our students a great advantage.” Thomas Kwiatkowski, MD, assistant dean of education/simulation and course director for CPR, at the School of Medicine.
The high-tech, computerized mannequins at CLI are able to mimic real patients and are able to talk and respond to the medical students , who take vital signs and perform emergency procedures, such as intravenous line insertion, breathing tube insertion and medication administration. The mannequin patients are controlled remotely by instructors at CLI, who can make them cry out in pain, move about and even react to a student’s touch.
First-year medical student Niki Sheth called the CLI simulations “very realistic” and the detailed debriefings very helpful.
“The debriefing was a great way of getting feedback,” she said. “It also helps you reason out and explain why you took certain actions during the exercise.”
According to Dr. Kwiatkowski, lessons taught in a realistic simulation are retained better, due to the required active learning and focused concentration, the experience's emotional investment, and the direct association with the real world.