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U.S. embassy staffers and Joseph Clinton (second from right), head of the University's emergency medicine department, attend to SimMan during an advanced life support course.
One very smart mannequin
From eNews, March 18, 2004
The patient is struggling for breath. His chest heaves. His heart rate soars. "I feel like I could die!" he gasps. And then he does. Disappointed but undaunted, the students talk over what went wrong, revive the patient, and try again. Impossible? In real life, yes. But not when you have SimMan, a computer-run mannequin that joined the University's Academic Health Center (AHC) last summer. Piloted by sophisticated, customizable software, SimMan is not "just a dummy lying on a gurney," says Jane Miller, director AHC's Clinical Skills Lab. He breathes and has a heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, lung sounds--all of which change to correspond to the normal course of the condition he's been programmed to experience and the interventions attempted by attendants. "There isn't much he can't do," Miller says. The AHC brought SimMan on board to expose students to a variety of emergency and real-life situations they might not otherwise encounter. "Practicing procedures on an actual patient is becoming less and less possible and certainly has some ethical questions," Miller says. "If we expect students to be competent in certain skills we have to be able to provide situations where they can practice and do that safely." Students and continuing education participants in all health professions have the opportunity to use SimMan. Last fall, he starred in a workshop for U.S. embassy personnel from around the world. "It's really for people to understand how different sorts of conditions, especially emergency conditions, play themselves out . . . and how making good choices and bad choices makes a difference," Miller says. To learn more about the Clinical Skills Laboratory, also known as the Interprofessional Education and Resource Center, go to the lab's Web site.