Canadian Simulationists Breathe Life Into Training Manikins

Simulationists breathe life into training manikins

The press coverage of healthcare simulation continues to catch the public’s attention at facilities across the world! Recently this awesome article covered the work of Canadian-based Fanshawe College nursing simulations, and the connection to Ontario’s SIM-One group:

Fanshawe nursing students work with a simulator to hook up a colonoscopy bag. Christine Link sits inside a small room with two-way glass, watching a young woman in the classroom beyond. The nursing student seems unsure what to do with an elderly male patient in the bed in front of her. She lingers by the supply cart, as if looking for something. Link speaks through a microphone, which comes out of the manikin as a scratchy, old-man’s voice. She is playing the role of George, a grumpy senior with a respiratory condition. “Get me a drink of water,” commands Link. George has dirty tissues filled with fake mucus scattered around him. As the student fetches a cup, Link explains that she is waiting for the perfect teaching moment. “I would have the student hold it up to my mouth, and that’s when I’d cough.”

Link is one of a growing number of simulation experts working in medical, paramedic and nursing programs across the country. “Health care has really come a long way in how we teach and present material,” she says. “No longer are we injecting into an orange.” Link, who graduated from the practical nursing program at Fanshawe College in 2007, returned to the Ontario school as a part-time lab technician the following year. After stints as an instructor, in 2013 she became the simulation technologist, now responsible for running 15 manikins.


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At SIM-one in Toronto, a non-profit, national networking, training and R&D organization with 1,700 members involved in health-care simulation, CEO Timothy Willett says every college and university in the country has adopted the technique. In Ontario alone, 78 different programs and labs are using a total of 1,236 manikins and thousands more simulation tools.

SIM-one offers several online and in-person courses, including the brand-new 12-week Simulation Scenario Writing, Roleplay Theatre and Simulation Wizardry. They also train experienced simulationists to run their own courses, and each year about 15 to 20 are certified as simulation educators after they have completed three courses at a total cost of about $2,000. “As far as I know, there’s no kind of college programs you can go to with the intent of getting into that role,” says Willett.


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