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Building a Bigger, Better Simulation Experience

In fall 2009, the medical school made the commitment to build a state-of-the-art simulation center, dubbed the Simulation Technology and Immersive Learning Center (STIL), to help medical students, residents, and hospital personnel acquire the important technical and non-technical skills necessary for the day-to-day treatment of pediatric and adult patients. The 11,000-square-foot facility, adjacent to the existing Northwestern Center for Advanced Skills Education (N-CASE), where emergency medicine experiences can be fully appreciated, contains five simulation “bays” (designed to look like a fully equipped hospital room), two skills labs, and an innovations lab where new simulation devices are created.

With five patient “rooms,” multiple simulation experiences can be provided at once to different groups of learners, or the space can accommodate highly complex patient scenarios with one group to provide true immersive learning. Deliberate practice using real equipment and patient sounds/reactions, make these hands-on experiences come to life. Videotaped sessions enable live capture of scenarios that can be downloaded into student and faculty portfolios for assessment and feedback – the real keys to cementing these important activities to reinforce safety practices and improve patient outcomes.

4,000 feet of cable support 17 fixed cameras, 15 in-room listening devices, and 12 digital video recorders, in addition to X-ray monitors and other equipment throughout the facility, to capture interactions/reactions in the patient rooms, and also in the hallways, so the evaluation of teamwork and communication skills can also occur. Breakdowns in these important exchanges are often cited as reasons many errors happen in real-life patient situations.