KU offers student doctors real life training on almost life-like patients

Shortly before noon Wednesday, Victoria was going through her fifth delivery of a baby within two hours, as registered nurse Jane Diaz encouraged her to “push, push, push.”

“Oh Victoria, she is beautiful,” said fellow nurse Erin Doyle, as she placed the newborn on Victoria’s chest. “We are putting this hat on her head to keep her warmth.”

Victoria and the newborn aren’t real people but are among several manikins — as simulated patients in the health care industry are known — that are part of the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita Simulation Center.

The center held an open house Wednesday to show the public how it recreates medical situations with the manikins to train future doctors and nurses.

The more sophisticated, or high fidelity, manikins can breathe, blink their eyes, have heartbeats and mimic a lot of patient conditions, from an erratic heartbeat to fluid-filled lungs to a full-blown cardiac arrest.

With the manikins, students can learn to intubate a patient to get them ready to be put on a ventilator or how to start an IO, or intraosseous infusion, which differs from an IV because it’s an injection directly into the bone marrow. The students learn to use a live shock to restart a patient’s heart during a code blue situation or practice other procedures.

On torso manikins, students can practice CPR or learn to use a sonogram to find a large vein rather than a neighboring artery to start a central line to deliver multiple fluids intravenously.

Victoria’s birthing demonstration was just one of several scenarios that played out during the open house.

Visitors also could talk to SimMan, or patient Kevin Rector as he was known for the day, and hear him describe the fall from a ladder that had brought him to the hospital. The center’s medical director Dr. Eli Brumfield interacted with “Kevin” in the same way he would have had he been at the bedside of an actual patient, for example, telling him he was going to move Kevin’s gown to listen to his chest.

As Doyle, the center’s program director, introduced manikin Anne to visitor Karen Abshire-Gordon, she pointed out several of Anne’s features, including her movable joints. “We really love her,” Doyle said. “She’s one of our newest manikins.”

Visitor Jackie Schumacher held Tory, one of the infant simulators, patting his bottom as she gently swayed him and wondered aloud if he needed a diaper change.

Schumacher had been to the simulation center before. For the past year-and-a-half, she’s been part of the medical school’s standardized patient program, another training tool for KUSM-Wichita students.

Program participants are coached to role-play as patients during an office visit. Sometimes they portray a patient’s family member or loved one in the simulation center. For example, Schumacher once played the role of a wife and another time the girlfriend at the bedside of SimMan.

The simulation center has an important teaching role, said Brumfield and Doyle.

In what Brumfield called interprofessional education, KUSM-Wichita med students work with nursing students from Newman and Wichita State universities, and even students from such fields as speech-language pathology, in the simulation center

“It enriches the experience by making it more real,” Brumfield said.

Not only do students learn to work together as a team, but they also have to learn how to communicate with patients and loved ones. With someone like Schumacher being part of the scenario, the team also learns how to handle difficult conversations and interact with an anxious family member.

“Health care of the future is learning to work in teams and that includes patients and their family members,” he said. In medical circles, that kind of teamwork is called collaborative care.

“We can teach more than what’s in a textbook,” Doyle said. “If a mistake is made, we can do a reset and walk the students through it.”