In medical education, it has long been believed that observation of real patients, along with practical, hands-on experience performing procedures on actual patients, is the best form of education. However, recent technological advances in the field of simulation have encouraged medical educators to update their curriculum. More medical schools are now joining the ranks of the military and aviation professions in employing simulators into their pedagogy.
Not only are the simulators fun and interesting, they are aimed at providing practical education to medical students and fledgling doctors without the risks to patient safety that may lead to medical malpractice.
These simulators, which can be incredibly life-like, demonstrate actual human functions so new students do not have to practice on each other, or worse, on patients.
Previously, for example, medical students would learn how to perform an intravenous drip course by performing the task on other students. Now, they no longer have to offer up their own flesh of the benefit of other learners. With a simulated intravenous trainer, nursing students can practice on a latex arm that is realistic enough to give them real experience, but that doesn’t experience pain or harm.
‘Noelle’ robot simulates pregnant woman to train obstetricians and midwives
A robot called “Noelle” is a $38,000 simulator used to train obstetricians and midwives. Elsie is ultra-realistic — she is not just a rubber dummy, like the old “Resuscitation Annie.”
Noelle is an anatomically correct rubber model of a woman outfitted with computer chips that provide symptoms, cues and feedback to the students. Noelle’s eyes blink and her pupils react to light. A speaker calls out phrases similar to what could be expected of an actual woman experiencing contractions.
Inside Noelle’s abdomen is a unisex rubber infant. The infant simulator has similar features to Noelle: It cries, breathes and has a pulse. The infant will turn blue if there is a lack of oxygen. Its skull is modeled on the natural curves of a real baby’s head.
Noelle and the baby are used to train medical personnel on possible complications during delivery, such as shoulder dystocia, a potentially fatal complication that occurs when an infant’s shoulders are turned vertically during delivery and become lodged against the mother’s public bone.
The mother-and-baby simulators are programmed to show students the signs and symptoms of potential birth injuries like shoulder dystocia, hypoxia and hemorrhage conditions. Noelle can also be used to simulate a C-section birth.
Ideally, the use of these robot simulators will give many more obstetric and midwifery students the opportunity to experience and resolve birth complications when real lives are not at stake. If this innovation helps reduce the incidence of birth injuries and obstetric malpractice, Noelle and her baby will be very welcome additions indeed.
Source: International Business Times, “The Patient Is Rubber and She’s Talking to You,” Yiting Sun, July 25, 2011