The University of South Florida’s (USF) Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) is providing hands-on training to EMS educators from across Pinellas County, FL. The “train the trainer” exercises are a part of the university’s community outreach efforts in the county. It aims to share the university’s expertise and simulation technology with EMS educators, so they can take the skills they learned back to first-responders.
USF’s CAMLS facility opened in 2012 and provides students with a state-of-the-art, high-fidelity clinical environment. The facility contains surgical skills labs, operating trauma suites, and patient exam rooms wherein nurses, surgeons, and other clinicians can practice patient care skills in a safe environment. The goal of the CAMLS facility is to provide healthcare professionals with a space dedicated to simulation-based education and training that improves patient safety and outcomes.
The simulated scenarios run in the CAMLS facility allow students to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom. Research shows that experiential, or hands-on, learning helps students move from theory to practice and build skills. Simulation-based training serves as the bridge between classroom learning and real clinical experiences as students can practice actual medical techniques and repeat procedures as often as they need, working on improving technique and avoiding errors.
In traditional clinical settings, students learn as opportunities to practice come along. However, this means that students might not have a chance to encounter or have a chance to practice treating certain low frequency, but high-risk cases. Moreover, it is not practical or ethical for an inexperienced practitioner to treat certain emergency events wherein the patient’s life could be at risk without immediate and correct care.
Thus, there is no opportunity to assess whether the learner understands the complexity of correctly diagnosing and treating a patient. The shortage of clinical sites denies learners the real-world preparation they need to be good clinicians, so simulation-based training is the most optimal way to provide learners with the experience they need.
In a high-fidelity training space equipped with life-like simulators and real medical equipment, an instructor could reproduce the pace and stress of a real clinical environment. Students could also be exposed to a variety of medical events and practice providing care. Since there is no risk of harming or killing a simulated patient, learners can make mistakes, be instructed in proper protocols and techniques, and repeat the process until it becomes second nature.
The CAMLS facility at USF does just that. The facility gives participants more clinical opportunities, and therefore more opportunities to learn and practice. This is why the faculty and staff of CAMLS are passing on their expertise in simulation-based training to Pinellas County EMS educators. The goal is to train the educators so they can use simulation to produce better-prepared first-responders across the county.
Yasuharu “Haru” Okuda, USF Health CAMLS’ executive director, led the three-day training. Using several of Gaumard’s high-fidelity adult patient simulators, HAL 3201, he guided the EMS educators through troubleshooting the technology and best practices for simulation-based education.
Shawn Tatham, EMS training coordinator for Pinellas County said: “in simulations, we can slow things down a little bit, we can get them into a structured assessment pattern and ensure that they’re doing their treatments according to our standardized protocol, and we can create a nice learning environment so they can go out and apply that for the best patient care.”
Also at hand was Ryan McKenna, director of simulation at USF Health CAMLS Emergency Medicine program. Following each simulated emergency scenario, McKenna held a debriefing session with the educators.
Part of the simulation process involves an open discussion between the educator and the participants about what occurred during the scenario. Since the debriefing session is recorded, this helps both parties objectively assess performance. The participants get valuable feedback and insights into what occurred and possible opportunities for improvement.
Following the training, the EMS instructors will take what they have learned and apply it to their continuing education training with emergency medical technicians and paramedics across the county.