Pediatric patient Katie lays on the bed at the Springfield Technical Community College with tears rolling down her cheeks, with audible signs of distress and in apparent pain but rather than a doctor coming to her aid, Simulation Specialist Dan Taibbi moves to stop the anguish with a touch on his tablet.
Named Katie by the Health & Patient Simulation department, she is a robotic simulation patient used to train students and medical practitioners at the STCC.
The STCC was awarded $500,000 for its health science and electrical engineering technology programs from Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Politos skills capital grants.
At the touch on the tablet Katie will show a variety of symptoms that students have to treat. (Douglas Hook / MassLive)
The goal of the skills capital grants, which range from $50,000 to $500,000, is to help high schools, colleges and other workforce training organizations invest in the most up-to-date equipment to give their students an advantage when they continue in their chosen field or area of study.
STCC will use the grant to boost two programs dividing the grant in half by acquiring:
- New medical patient simulation training equipment, which will allow a larger number of students to enroll in the health science program.
- Robotic arms for the electrical engineering technology program, which will provide hands-on experience with equipment students will encounter in advanced manufacturing facilities.
The robotic arms will arrive in early Nov. according to Rick Jagodowski, chair of the electrical engineering technology program at STCC.
Our program provides graduates with the skills necessary to become technicians in the high-demand fields of automation, robotics, mechatronics, and electromechanical systems design, installation, programming, and repair, said Jagodowski. In addition to the new robots, our department will use some of the funds to acquire trainers to augment our PLC (programmable logic controls) and fluid power lab equipment."
Chair of the Electrical Engineering Technology Program Rick Jagodowski at the STCC. (Douglas Hook / MassLive)
It is encouraging to see schools that are awarded skills capital grants put the funds toward career pathways to give Massachusetts students experience and expertise in industries that are expanding in the Commonwealth, said Gov. Charlie Baker. These beneficial programs will give thousands of students a head-start on prosperous careers and we look forward to seeing their progress.
Dean of the School of Health & Patient Simulation Christopher Scott outlined the need for this investment for his students, local high schools as well as practicing healthcare professionals from nearby hospitals and emergency services to tremendously improved, patient care.
Patient simulation first started at the STCC in 1999 with low-fidelity simulators that would be used for basic medical training like learning to apply an intravenous (IV) needle or Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
These simulations would advance to mid-fidelity simulators that are more lifelike and would give the student a more immersive experience to high-fidelity that would be so realistic that the students would tend to forget that theyre robots.
Detail is important with the simulations, even down to the pores in the skin and the hair on their head. (Douglas Hook / MassLive)
Out of a total of 73 patient simulations at the STCC on an average day, there will be 40 to 45 running throughout the day.
Scott proudly boasts that is in the top 5% of the largest centers for simulation training in the country.
Coordinator of Simulations Bill Garvey and his team of Simulation Specialists Dan ONeill and Taibbi work tirelessly on making the simulations a realistic as possible.
Dean of the School of Health & Patient Simulation Christopher Scott (right) and Co-Ordinator of Simulation Bill Garvey (left) stand in the monitoring station at the STCC. (Douglas Hook / MassLive)
Attention is given to the smallest detail of facial expression, symptom, and even the name.
[We] looked into the local community, said ONeill. To find names.
The simulation robots are given a mixture of race, gender and religion to make the students take into account each patient's needs improving bedside manner and sensitivities of the patient.
We have four part-time firefighter-paramedics on staff, said Taibbi. To advise us on realism.
Scott makes clear that realism is crucial to help students learn from mistakes before they are in an actual emergency.
Professional nurse reviews and advises students on their caregiving in the patient simulation. (Douglas Hook / MassLive)
Part of the realism is the suspension of disbelief, for students when they enter the ward. An important part of the training is to prepare for any situation.
The simulation specialists look at every detail under the advisement of medical experts. Sprays are used to emulate the smells and special effects to show the graphic injuries expected in a hospital.
[We do] everything we can to make these simulations as true to life as possible, said ONeill. Its important to use realistic simulations.
Dan O'Neill holds out the spray that is used to simulate a smell in a hospital ward. (Douglas Hook / MassLive)
One of the assets the Community College offers is to address the high-acuity, low-frequency, events.
High-acuity, low-frequency events are events that medical staff may only encounter a few times in their careers such as maternity complications like shoulder dystocia, perinatal asphyxia or cephalopelvic disproportion.
A Johns Hopkins study shows more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors and Taibbi emphasis the need to use patient simulation to reduce this statistic.
Each simulation is viewed by peers and teachers on screens in a separate room and once the student concludes the treatment, they are debriefed.
Students are hard on themselves, said Scott. We give them positive reinforcement.
In a minority of cases, the realism of the simulation can lead to a student deciding to move away from bedside care to another medical position. Maybe because theyre sensitive to the blood or undesirable smells experienced on the ward.
Other training establishments dont offer this kind of experience until their face to face with a real-life patient Nurse Skills Laboratory Coordinator Donna Mae Jones told MassLive.
Twice a year practicing medical professionals and emergency services come to practice High-acuity, low-frequency issues including firefighters, police and medical staff from Baystate, Mercy, and Holyoke Medical Centers.
Nurse Skills Laboratory Co-Ordinator Donna Mae Jones stands in the ward with Mid-Fidelity simulations. (Douglas Hook / MassLive)
ONeill talks about a hypothetical event where if he had a medical emergency and needed medical treatment, he hopes that the caregiver has training from this college.
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