Simulation is a training and feedback method in which learners practice tasks and processes in lifelike circumstances using models or virtual reality, with feedback from observers, peers, actor-patients, and video cameras to assist improvement in skills. Computer-based medical simulation provides a realistic and economical set of tools to improve and maintain the skills of health care providers adding a valuable dimension to medical training similar to professional training in aviation, defense, maritime, and nuclear energy. Medical simulators allow individuals to review and practice procedures as often as required to reach proficiency without harming the patient.
Simulation-based Medical Education (SBME) includes several tools and approaches:
- A full environment simulator is similar to flight simulators used to train pilots. The pilot is immersed in a complete replica of the cockpit environment. In medicine, sophisticated mannequins, known as patient simulators provides health care professionals with a computer-based patient that breathes, responds to drugs, talks, and drives all the clinical monitors in the operating room, e.g., blood pressure and pulse rate.
- Task trainers provide a simulated subset of functionality, such as how to give a smallpox inoculation or how to insert a chest tube.
- Computer-based training provides software programs that train and assess clinical knowledge and decision-making skills.
- Simulated/standardized patients allow students to interact with actors trained to act as patients providing students with valuable feedback on, among other things, bedside manner.
Medical simulation is a cross-disciplinary effort that brings together providers, including nurses, physicians, and allied health professionals across a variety of disciplines with computer scientists, researchers, educators, and human factors engineers.
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