At the Simulation Center, we understand that healthcare is rapidly evolving. Technical expertise, excellent communication and teamwork skills are necessary to successfully care for patients in a complex clinical environment.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports teamwork and communication failures as a cause of medical errors. The aviation industry experienced similar problems: poor communication, authority gradients and systems issues contributed to the majority of airline disasters. Aviation began to address these problems by correcting systems issues and employing simulation-based training for high-risk, but infrequent, events like engine failure and fires.

The healthcare field has adopted simulation-based training to improve reliability, teamwork and communication. Current patient simulators are capable of exchanging real gasses (oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen), producing palpable pulses, audible heart sounds and respiratory sounds, as well as other physiologic cues like pupillary responses and EKG waveforms. Patient simulators allow for real-time interventions such as defibrillation and medication administration and real-time patient response to interventions.

The IOM report states that healthcare training should incorporate “proven methods of teamwork training like simulation.” This report also recognized the importance of breaking down “silos”; it is important to train as we work. Instead of nurses practicing with nurses and doctors practicing with doctors, training should be as multidisciplinary teams −  physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists − working together just as in the clinical environment.

Traditionally, healthcare teaches technical skills, or algorithms of care, but equally important for patient safety are the non-technical skills, such as teamwork and communication. Simulation gives healthcare providers the ability to practice these skills in a safe environment to improve the quality and safety of patient care. The simulated experience provides a realistic and challenging experience that prepares the healthcare team to perform successfully in the clinical setting.