Mo. medical students train in chaotic emergency simulations
A.T. Still University is immersing its students in chaotic situations in an effort to better train them for how to deal with medical emergencies
By Danielle Brown
Kirksville Daily Express
KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — For many medical students, a part of their education includes learning how to respond to medical emergencies. However, most of that training is done through a controlled setting with no chaos or real emergency.
A.T. Still University is looking to change that by immersing its students in chaotic situations in an effort to better train them for how to deal with medical emergencies once they leave school.
"We are good at training students in a controlled setting where there's no chaos, there's no emergency that really comes into play," said Lisa Archer, ATSU's director of simulation and performance assessment.
"We've done well with putting them in front of a simulated patient but we've not done very well at introducing them into the chaos that goes on in the room."
Last week, A.T. Still University held several demonstrations showcasing its immersive clinical simulations. The demonstrations were held at the university's Drabing Human Patient Simulation Center, which is located inside the Interprofessional Education Building.
Students who participated in the showcase were faced with a scenario of a football player that's developed respiratory distress during Truman State's homecoming game.
One student served as the medical professional attempting to assess the problem and treat the player. Two other students, acting as a cheerleader and another playing, also surround them, and still very much involved in the game, yelling and screaming in support of the team. They're also talking to the medical professional and providing information about the patient.
In the end, Archer explained the student figures out that the ill football player has exercise-induced asthma and continues to treat them until the scenario ends.
"This is immersing our students in sights and sounds of whatever scenario we build," Archer said.
ATSU started developing the immersion room around June and conducted its first simulation in October. Since then, the university has been building its video library and adding simulated scenarios for students to train with.
Scenarios range from treating a trauma patient who was recently in a car accident and has a severed spine, head bleed, broken femurs and contusions, to treating a patient having seizures to newborn resuscitation.
Archer said typically students do simulations about once or twice a week, and hospital interns, residents and third- and fourth-year students also come over weekly to do simulations.
"The students love this. They think it's the greatest thing ever," Archer said.
Local emergency service providers, including the Adair County Ambulance District, have also taken advantage of the immersion room.
"They're coming in here and doing some of their training in here, as well," Archer said. "The Adair County Ambulance District has been in here quite a bit already using the room to do some of their training."
Darrell Crooks, internal training coordinator with ACAD, said the two entities have partnered for training for about three years and since the immersion room has opened, ACAD has used it for training about once a month.
Crooks said the noise that happens at an emergency scene can make talking to others difficult and this type of training helps them understand how to communicate better in chaotic situations.
"We actually love it. The simulation and mannequins themselves really give us a unique experience where they actually act like patient's vitals and we can treat them," Crooks said. "It just immerses the people into the scene itself, not just taking care of the patients but having to deal with noises and other difficulties."
Archer said the room allows all local emergency services providers to train on how to work through real emergency situations.
"All of our health care partners need to work together, so this is actually allowing us to do some inter-professional education so that physicians, nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, pharmacy, all those groups can come together and train together so they have that part of education knocked out too before they get into taking care of real patients," Archer said.
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