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Patient Simulators at HSSC No Longer Face Identity Crisis


Until recently the simulated human beings at the Health Science Simulation Center (HSSC) have been going through an identity crisis.  Since the Center first opened in November 2006, the state-of-the-art simulators, comprised of life-like mannequins that interface with a computer to simulate human responses, have been nameless, referred to most times as, 'the older one,' 'the one with the twisted arm,' or 'the one that can blink.'  But that is no longer the case for eight of the technologically advanced mannequins.

"It has always been the group's intent to name our simulators," said Jeanette Wong, MPA, RN, HSSC Operations Manager and assistant professor.  "Naming them will help SMU educators as they begin to incorporate the use of simulations into their teaching-learning practices, give them a personality, and make people care about them as actual human patients."

What better time to publicize their new names than at the birthday celebration of the founding father of the University, Dr. Samuel Merritt.  The celebration took place on March 30 in the Bechtel Room of the Health Education Center.  Dressed in a white coat, armed with formal name certificates and a pen, Celeste Villanueva, CRNA, MS, HSSC Director and assistant professor, asked President Sharon Diaz to bear official witness to the new names. 

"It took the entire HSSC team to come up with the names," stated Villanueva to the birthday celebration audience.  "Sam-I-Am was conceived by Lina Gage-Kelly and SimBabwe, was thought up by Bill Stiers.  (Gage-Kelly and Stiers are HSSC healthcare practioners.)  Samaritan, means "good Sam" and it happens to be the company logo of the manufacturer of the HSSC's simulators - Laerdal Medical.  Jeanette Wong gave one mannequin the name of Samira.  It is of Arabic origin meaning "evening conversationalist," and we felt it fit this particular simulated adult because she is a conversation piece."

"Simulation is all about team work and being creative," said Wong.  "At the Center we always create health scenarios, environments, and give each patient simulator names that match their specific patient profile.  But, like any actor, at the end of the day they just want to be known for themselves."


"Naming the simulators helps the faculty promote the very important principle that students learning in the simulation center need to suspend the disbelief that they are working with a computerized mannequin," said Villanueva. 

Not all simulators were renamed.  Their cousin Harvey, who flew in from the University of Miami last month, whose name is a proprietary identifier of the cardiopulmonary simulator, will keep his given name.  Another cousin of SimMan®, SimMan® 3-G, a new, next-generation, wireless patient simulator anticipated to come to the Center by 2010.  He will also be formally referred to by his original moniker, although Laerdal Medical does encourage simulation faculty to give patient simulators their own names.

The high-level patient simulators at the HSSC can be programmed to recognize and respond to the interventions and medications administered by health care providers, and can simulate physiologic responses such as a heartbeat and pulse.  Students in virtually every program offered at SMU are provided opportunities to learn key concepts and skills by the use of high-fidelity, mannequin based simulation, such as treating a child experiencing an asthma attack or learning how to assist in the delivery of a baby.

The Center's goal is to apply knowledge of clinical situations in a low-risk, controlled environment.  Using simulation-based learning methodologies is one important strategy identified by the Institute of Medicine and other federal agencies to implement the changes required in our healthcare system to improve patient safety.  The HSSC has been recognized as a Center of Educational Excellence (COEE) by Laerdal Medical Corporation for demonstrating excellence in educational philosophy and programs.

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Office of the President eNews is published by Samuel Merritt University, Office of the President.
Stephanie Bangert, Executive Director Office of the President / Editor.
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