10:45 AM

Simulating Success - Mohawk's Centre for Health Care Simulation


Students build confidence in their skillsat the Centre for Health Care Simulation

Students in Mohawk’s School of Health spend hours each week learning through powerful simulations at the innovative Centre for HealthCare Simulation in the Mohawk Institute for Applied Health at McMaster University.

“Simulation is one of the most important and meaningful experiences for our students,” said Wendy Lawson, Dean of the School of Health. “It sets them up for success in clinical settings.”

The Centre includes the Professional Practice Collaboratory (PPC), which features eight practice labs, four simulation suites, and three daily living apartments. The PPC features settings that mimic hospitals, long-term care and patients’ homes and the equipment is exactly what students will be using in hospitals.

About 2,000 students studying nursing, medical imaging, pharmacy, cardiovascular, ultrasound, personal support worker, and occupational therapy and physiotherapy learn at the centre each semester.

Mohawk hires actors – standardized patients – to play out scenarios, alongside sophisticated high-fidelity manikins that are capable of simulating realistic sounds and physiology including speaking, breathing, vomiting, bleeding, and other bodily functions. One manikin can even give birth.

Staff control the response of the manikins based on the actions or inactions of students.

“We try to make it as realistic as possible,” said Theresa Merwin, Director of Simulation, Business Development and Inter-professional Learning with the School of Health.

“The ultimate goal is to have students learning in a safe environment. They can make mistakes and learn from them before they are out in the world.”

Simulation training is followed by extensive debriefing from peers and faculty, so students understand what went right and what needs to be worked on.

The result is that when students go into clinical placements “the fear is gone,” said Merwin. “They are able to adapt more quickly and take initiative because they have confidence in their skills.”

That was certainly true for Laura Bridgland, a third-year Bachelor of Nursing student.

“Simulations really give us a chance to practise and expand our skills in a more real-life setting. They help us be successful in a stressful environment.”

A recent simulation included a manikin in respiratory distress and a standardized patient acting as an angry and confused spouse.

“I take the simulations very seriously and sometimes I forget it’s not really happening,” said Bridgland, who hopes to head into critical medicine.

“I think that’s why I enjoy the simulations so much. I work well under pressure, but I want to develop those skills further.”

The simulation centre is often used to train staff at community healthcare organizations and Mohawk also offers simulation suites at Six Nations Polytechnic’s Brantford campus and the Village of Wentworth Heights retirement home in Hamilton.

The School of Health is also embarking on applied research at the newly formed Medical Technology Innovation Centre, located next to the Centre for Health Care Simulation.

“It is meant to build capacity in applied health research and introduce a new set of skills to our students, such as inquiry, discovery and agility,” said Lawson.

The college is exploring embedding augmented and virtual reality into foundational learning, and investing in a range of smart-home and wearable medical devices both for research and student training.

“Coupling simulation with research means Mohawkwill always expose students to what’s coming next.”

Image: Madelyn Ferguson, Practical Nursing student andTheresa Merwin, Director of Simulation, BusinessDevelopment and Inter-professional Learning