Taking a page from the aviation industry, medicine has turned to simulation as an important modality in training medical students how to respond in complex situations. Today as part of our training on how to respond to a patient in cardiac arrest, we went through a proctored simulation.
Down in our medical school basement (though a very fancy basement), we walked into a room that looks just a like a hospital room in the ICU. We opened the door to the sound of beeping monitors, and one of our teaching physicians greeted us in a wig and introduced himself as the nurse for our patient. On the real hospital bed lay a plastic mannequin, whose eyes blinked at us and over a loudspeaker told us that he was having chest pain.
Myself and my two fellow medical students assessed the scene, felt for a pulse, and as the mannequin’s pulse faded and lost “consciousness,” we called a code over the intercom. We started CPR, shocked his heart, and administered medications.
The purpose of the exercise was not to memorize the medications we need to administer, but to understand the complex details of implementing the knowledge we’ve been taught. It was exciting, fun, and so much more useful at cementing knowledge into our heads. We realized how we needed to communicate more clearly on who was rotating in on chest compressions, and we learned that the scenario worked more effectively when one person declared themself the leader of the scenario.
Learning is often an amorphous task. It’s exciting to try new ways to go about it, and gratifying to find evidence that your hard work has congealed into a real live skill.