All Too Real
Date: June 7, 2013
Forget about multiple-choice quizzes. The future of medical education is happening under the direction of the Johns Hopkins Medicine Simulation Center, located in the Outpatient Center.
Now in its fifth year, the Sim Center is busier than ever, says Director Betsy Hunt. While Hopkins medical and nursing students engaged in about 10 hours of annual simulation training when the center opened in 2008, today’s students are logging in 100 hours or more annually, as “Sim Time” has become closely integrated into the Genes to Society curriculum.
“At Hopkins, we're now asking our medical and nursing students to demonstrate competency in applying their knowledge to real-world problems,” says Hunt.
Simulation training has proved very popular with students, notes Julianna Jung, the center’s associate director. “Students immediately respond to simulation in a visceral way because they realize that it’s their opportunity to master a skill set—while they’re in training—that could keep somebody alive,” she says. “That's really powerful.”
Within the Sim Center, students can take advantage of a range of simulation options to fit specific training needs, ranging from high-tech, high-fidelity manikins to standardized patient simulation. Other choices include computerized and virtual reality simulations.
“I'm very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish on our shoestring so far,” says Jung. “But it’s becoming more demanding for us to support the university adequately. We need to expand our services.”
With a growing need across Johns Hopkins for access to simulation resources, Hunt knows that the center has reached a turning point. “In the last five years, the number of simulation activities has been building exponentially,” she notes. “We’ve clearly outgrown our space.”
Driving this rapid growth and expanding need, says Hunt, is the emerging concept of interprofessional education—that students learn more effectively in cross-disciplinary, collaborative surroundings where they can “train and team.” The Sim Center provides the perfect environment for that interaction to take place, where students in medicine, nursing, and pharmacy can work side by side, sharing insights. “But the fact is, we’re working in a space that can barely accommodate our students, let alone their professors, observers, or researchers,” she says.
Over the past six months, Hunt has been working closely with Sally McConnell, vice president of facilities for the Johns Hopkins Health System, in charting an expanded role for the Sim Center.
“We want to get our arms around how we can best accommodate the growth of the center in serving the expanding needs of the university,” says McConnell. “So we need to look at many issues, including the additional facilities and staff we need to add. We need to understand strategically where simulation is going at Hopkins, and how we can underwrite its growth.”
As the Sim Center prepares for this next stage of growth, Hunt is confident that its mission will remain a constant: to advance the delivery of better patient care, here at Hopkins and around the world. “Simulation is a training tool, but also it’s an innovation tool,” she says. “In that regard, we’re training today’s medical professionals—and tomorrow’s.”