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About simulation

Simulation training at Virginia Commonwealth University creates interactive experiences that integrate foundations of knowledge with critical thinking, problem-solving and clinical inquiry. VCU Health Sciences students, residents, staff and physicians regularly use simulation in research and education. Each of the five professional schools within VCU Health Sciences incorporates a range of simulation into their curricula, regularly exposing students to lifelike scenarios that reinforce and enhance knowledge gained from classroom education.

What is simulation?

Simulation is a technique used to replicate real-life situations in a controlled environment. At VCU, we use stable task trainers as well as the latest high-fidelity computerized patient simulators, which can be programmed to mimic patient responses. The simulators blink, perspire, cry, bleed, convulse and emulate a variety of medical conditions including fever, hypertension, cardiac arrest and allergic reactions, prompting participants to use interventions just as they would in a hospital setting.

Simulation in practice

At VCU, health sciences students, residents, staff and physicians all partake in simulation exercises. For students in VCU Health Sciences’ five professional schools, simulation provides opportunities to utilize knowledge from readings and lecture courses in a clinical setting. Students can make “wrong” decisions in the simulated environment and learn from that experience without contributing to an adverse event in a real patient. Likewise, health care providers can perform new techniques or hone practiced ones in a safe, controlled environment.

Most schools integrate simulation into the curriculum starting in the very first year, recognizing that simulation promotes the problem-solving, decision-making and critical-thinking skills that ultimately lead to sound clinical judgment.

Simulation and safety

Simulation offers an immeasurable degree of safety as it bridges the gap between didactic instruction and clinical experiences. Hands-on experience prepares students to do their work efficiently, effectively and in the safest manner, while also contributing to their level of confidence.

Most simulation facilities boast audiovisual equipment, enabling instructors to record training activities and provide detailed and subsequent debriefings for simulation participants. The immediate feedback allows the student a “second-sweep” learning opportunity to view the same experience from a different perspective.

Ultimately, patients benefit from the students’ enhanced exposure and experience.