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Simulation lab opens at Thunder Bay Regional (4 photos)

New facility, paid for in part by a $500,000 donation from the Muslim Physicians Association, will allow health-care professionals to hone their skills before testing them out on patients.

THUNDER BAY – A new simulation laboratory at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is a teaching tool that should improve care at the hospital for decades to come.

The Ibn Sina Simulation Lab, paid for with the help of a $500,000 donation by the Muslim Physician Association, will allow health-care professionals and medical students to hone their skills on life-like mannequins, replicating just about any scenario they might face on the job.

Alyson Dykstra, an internal medicine doctor at the hospital, said it was an exciting moment to see the lab doors officially opened on Wednesday morning.

“Simulation is complementary to the traditional didactic training that we have in (our) medical school curriculum. It provides the opportunity for learners, residents and other health-care professionals to practice on simulated patients, instead of actual real-life patients,” Dykstra said.

“It decreases the risk of errors, it increases confidence and overall it improves performance.”

Dykstra said she’ll make use of the lab, located on the hospital’s third floor, to train medical students and residents on a variety of procedures and scenarios encountered on the job on a day-to-day basis.

“The biggest benefit is patient safety and overall to improve their health and well-being in a simulated fashion,” she said.

Zaki Ahmed, chief of staff at Thunder Bay Regional, said the Muslim Physicians wanted to give back to the hospital and the community, to ensure health-care professionals were able to continue learning new skills in a safe environment that allows them to make mistakes with no consequences.

Yasser Labib, a member of the hospital’s anesthesiology team, one of 12 physicians contributing to the donation, said it’s deeply rooted in doctors' mindsets to promote ongoing education.

“We wanted to make sure that we leave behind a (legacy) for other members to build upon, something that was of great importance to us,” Labib said.

“That’s why we wanted to be a part of this and hopefully we’re going to get more people on board to see more benefits.”

The laboratory was named after Ibn Sina, an 11th century Muslim physician whose Canon of Medicine was still being published in New York as recently as 1973. A giant of the Islamic Golden Age, more than 240 of his 450 works have survived into modernity.

The laboratory has four mannequins in place, including a pregnant woman, a sick child and male and female adults. Lab workers control the symptoms, based on criteria set out by those giving the training.

Stewart Kennedy, executive vice-president of medicine and regional programs at the hospital, said it’s been a five-year journey to make the lab a reality, but the benefits are invaluable.

“We’re a learning environment. We have the Northern Ontario School of Medicine with its residency program and we also have regional physicians who really want to come here and hone their skills, under the supervisions over our internal medicine and specialty programs,” Kennedy said.

“So we’re going to open it to all medical users. And we’re also going to do simulated events that we can look at professional practice, at a respect campaign, so it all doesn’t have to be work on a mannequin. We can have an error on the floor, we can bring that error back and we can actually do a debriefing on what happened and we can reproduce a learning environment so it doesn’t happen the next time.”

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 17 years and has served a similar role with since 2009. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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