Real-life dolls train in Clinical Skills

On the 21st of February 2015, the UCT Clinical Skills Centre and Dräger Medical South Africa (PTY) Ltd celebrated a unique partnership with the launch of the newly-renovated Simulation Laboratory in the Old Main Building in Groote Schuur Hospital.

Furnished with state-of the art medical equipment, the laboratory provides opportunities for students to gain technical competency in procedural skills before they reach the patient, and allows teams to practice communication skills and protocols for crisis situations, such as resuscitations.

Speaking at the launch, Director of the Centre Dr Rachel Weiss said that not only did simulation-based education

have the potential to improve patients’ experience, care and save lives; it is also ethically and pedagogically sound. Simulation pedagogy includes peer feedback and structured debriefing, which is not always feasible in busy hospital wards, clinics and operating theatres.

Students reap the benefits of real time instruction; avoid causing trauma to patients; attempt procedures they would not ordinarily try; work across discipline levels of training and familiarise themselves with clinical equipment. Invited guests saw this in action in each of the five simulation rooms where students and staff demonstrated practical case-based scenarios. The demonstrations showcased the realism of the simulations complete with life-like dolls that mimic human reactions to medication and trauma.

Fourth year medical student Tendai Ponde, a participant in the trauma simulation, expressed the benefits of this type of learning. “Using the mannequins gives you a good feel of muscle memory, and it makes you confident in what you need to do. You’ll find that your hands are in the right place because you’re used to practicing…and the jump between reality and practice becomes really small. So it makes it easy to know what to do and a lot less harder to panic”.

This unique setting presents an opportunity to build a library of scenarios that are African focused as the data from the mannequins is recorded and utilised as training material. Mr Michael Karsta, President of Middle East Africa Dräger Dubai, reiterated this saying that the “fruitful partnership…will allow for the transfer of skills and a view of the much needed knowledge of African challenges”. The Simulation Laboratory is truly a space in which technology and education converge to develop well trained persons needed to protect and save lives.