When Mark Henderson was a budding young cardiologist, he learned his craft the old-fashioned way: on the job.
It was trial-by-fire, said the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s vice-president of patient services.
On Friday Henderson and the hospital joined forces with Confederation College, St. Joseph’s Care Group and Superior North EMS, Lakehead University and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, signing a partnership to share resources at the college’s state-of-the-art high-fidelity Northwest Centre of Excellence in Health Simulation.
“It’s a very important agreement for the staff and students at the Regional Hospital. Not only medical students, but nursing students and inter-professional staff of all sorts can benefit from this type of simulation,” Henderson said.
“When I started to do angiograms on patients, there was no simulation like this. You had to be taught what to do and then you had to practice on a live patient. We were very carefully supervised, but in retrospect, in my career, it would have been a lot better if I could have done 100 simulated angiograms before I had to do a real one on a patient.”
The high-fidelity lab is a giant step forward for students in all medical disciplines. Set up like a true hospital patient room, the mannequin-like simulators can be programmed to mimic patients, reacting to a student’s voice and displaying various symptoms and ailments.
“They breathe, they respond to questions that are being asked of them. You can give them drugs and they respond to those drugs. In fact they may recover or they may pass away as well, and that’s a pretty profound experience for a student to see someone that they’ve done everything right with not have a successful outcome,” said Confederation College president Jim Madder.
“So there’s learning there every step of the way.”
The simulators themselves cost tens of thousands of dollars apiece. The agreement will see the partners not only share usage of the labs, but also the cost of equipment replacement, any future expansion and new programming.
The deal will also increase grant and funding opportunities.
Tracy Buckler, president and CEO at St. Joseph’s Care Group, said the partnership is critical for success in the future, given the number of college graduates the hospital hires.
“We have more than 1,700 employees who (also) need ongoing education and training. Just to have a partnership like this and not have to duplicate any effort or equipment or expenses is critical in this day and age. It’s a fabulous partnership and we’re happy to be a part of it,” Buckler said.
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