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Simulators Aid Medical Training at Wyoming Medical Center

May 16, 2011 — An 8-month-old baby can't breathe, and breaks into a sweat as a University of Wyoming student monitors the baby's symptoms and begins to administer treatment. A doctor looks on to ensure the student provides the care necessary to save the baby's life.

It's all in a day's work at the UW Medical Center (UWMC) Clinical Development Center in Casper.  The baby is one of four patient simulators that are helping health care providers, UW Family Medicine Residency Program residents and medical students practice their skills in a controlled setting.

The simulators -- an adult male in critical care, a newborn in neonatal care, a pregnant female and the baby -- are providing essential medical training in a controlled environment. Each of the simulators can create symptoms of different medical conditions, including breathing problems, increased pulse, sweating and bleeding.

"With patient safety s a major concern, the simulators can imitate reactions of human patients as doctors and nurses practice medical procedures before they encounter certain medical situations with actual patients," says Joe Steiner, dean of the UW College of Health Sciences. "Because it allows providers real-time experience and hands-on practice, the lab is central to patient safety."

The WMC provides open houses to acquaint members of the public with the skills needed to treat a range of patients with different conditions, says UWMC's Davina Drazick, who directs the $500,000 program, a collaboration of the UW Family Practice Residency Program, the College of Health Sciences and Wyoming Medical Center in Casper.

"This has completely changed the way we conduct clinical education at WMC," she says. "You can read a book all day, but until you can actually put the information into practice, it may not mean anything." 

"Health care institutions and healthcare professionals have an ethical obligation to train the next generation, and this partnership reflects the commitment WMC has made to honor that obligation," Steiner adds. "Without their help and the help of others who honor this commitment, providing healthcare education in Wyoming would be very difficult."

Resident physicians Dr. Nikki Myhre and Dr. Larry Lauridsen record vital signs in a patient simulator at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper. (College of Health Sciences)

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