Because of the paradigm shift in healthcare education, the University of Toledo needed a solution that was too big for a tweak.
That solution was the Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center.
Pamela Boyers, Executive Director of the Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center and Assistant Professor of the Department of Surgery at the University of Toledo says this was the best solution for students to utilize before they worked on actual patients.
“There’s a tremendous amount of technology that can be applied to patients while they’re in the hospital,” she says. “Therefore, in healthcare education, while it’s still important to learn in the real world, it is safer for patients (as well as learners) if they first learn how to apply these technologies using simulation.”
Aside from real world experience, Bill Schmidt says the new simulation center drives a stake between modern students and the old-school lecture approach.
“It’s a new teaching paradigm that helps medical students move away from a didactic teaching model – where you stand in front of the class and get lectured and take a bunch of tests and do a certain amount of hours – into a more performance-based model, where they could use simulations in conjunction with classroom teaching to develop competencies in a more interactive way,” says Schmidt, AVI-SPL‘s Director of Business Development and
Boyers says that the simulation center offers students the best of both medical education and the simulated healthcare experience.
“The IISC houses the broadest range of simulation models and environments possible in order to create highly realistic simulation experiences that prepare our health professionals to provide the best care,” she says. “We were also interested in bridging any “silos” between the professions and offering opportunities to work side by side – learn to work in teams – from early in their education.”
We also wanted to stimulate new ways of learning, new ways of teaching, new ways of discovery and create an environment that was not only collaborative, but innovative.”
The university’s Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center was built on the tri-center concept, meaning it features three distinct yet connected floors of 3-D simulation for teaching and learning:
Floor 1: is an immersive simulation floor where virtual reality tools are used to teach in the form of specialized displayed systems. This includes CAD walls and an iSpace, which Schmidt describes as “the closest thing to a holodeck that we have on the planet.”
“You can suspend a viewer’s belief system and put them into virtual worlds that can very closely approximate the real world,” Schmidt says. “This is a very new way of providing teaching, especially in the medical field, and it offers a bunch of new possibilities for them to accelerate the learning process.”
Floor 2: features the advanced clinical simulation center with high fidelity human patient simulators in simulated hospital settings. This floor can be turned into a virtual delivery unit, intensive care unit, trauma suite and surgical suite.
“In the Virtual Hospital, you can practice taking care of patients in the simulation spaces, including the transition of care from one level of care to another,” Boyers says. “For example, from the home, to the ED, to the hospital, to the ICU and back home again. Practicing the safe transition of patient care from one team to the next is very important.”
Floor 3: is a progressive anatomy and surgical skills center where surgical and procedural skill training is performed. This floor utilizes advanced trainers and enables surgical workshops, alongside a section that specifically works with bodies that were donated for scientific study.
Boyers says before the 65,000 square foot simulation center was built, the university built a 12,000 square foot prototype. She says the prototype was a test to see if the simulation center concept would be adopted by students, faculty and the curriculum.
“One can have all the simulation technology and environments in the world, but to be fully effective, simulation must be well integrated into the curriculum.,” Boyers says. “Transitioning from passive learning to “hands-on” experiential learning (where it makes sense) requires a significant paradigm shift.”
It also made sense for the University of Toledo to pick a collaborative integrator like AVI-SPL to install the simulation center’s technology.
Boyers says AVI-SPL was a perfect match for the simulation center because of their active listening and drive to accomplish what the university was looking for.
“The planning team knew that selection of technology was vitally important,” she says. “We were very hands-on in this regard and sought an integrator who would work very closely with us and listen to our needs – to help with total integration of the building. AVI-SPL listened to us carefully and truly performed. As a result, we have a highly complex center that does exactly what we wanted it to do.”
Boyers says the Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center has achieved the goal of training students in a safe, collaborative environment.
“Students like the concept that they can work within interdisciplinary teams early in training and gain confidence in developing patient care skills” she says.
Boyers also says that the simulation center has attracted attention from people outside of the healthcare community, and continues to dazzle people inside of it.
“The IISC hosts visitors from many academic institutions and companies from the region and around the world,” she says. “I think the interest is in the fact that we are creating a new paradigm for the education of healthcare professionals and using stunning technology to help transform the way we teach.”
How to Setup a Simulation Center at Your College
Learn by example
Schmidt says colleges looking to imitate the university’s simulation center should look at currently existing centers to see how they’re constructed and operated.
“Other universities can learn from the University of Toledo’s interdisciplinary approach,” he says. “[This is] a clear vision of what these types of environments need to accomplish, and the development of the criteria success model.”
Collaboration is key
Boyers says that teamwork is needed during the decision-making and integration process. That way, communication of what goals and technologies are needed in the center is clear, and end-users are happy.
“You need a team approach that engages the people who are the end-users in the selection process,” she says. “I believe that a collaborative model, where there’s mutual benefit, works best and can create a very healthy strategy that is mutually beneficial and highly likely to advance science and technology.”