Photo: Mark Wemple
CAE Healthcare President Robert Amyot wants simulated patients to become more widely used in nursing programs.
Southwest Florida Roundup
Flesh, blood and plastic: A look at patient simulators in medical training
Patient simulators are poised for broader acceptance in medical training. A Sarasota firm expects more business.
In 2014, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing published a study on the use of mannequin-like patient simulators at nursing schools across the U.S.
Among its findings: Nursing students who replaced half of their bedside clinical hours with simulation-based training learned just as much as if they had worked with real patients. And in some cases, it said, simulation gave them more confidence because they were able to experience scenarios that would have been off-limits in actual clinical settings.
CAE Healthcare, a Sarasota maker of patient simulators, hailed the results. Although long popular in some U.S. markets, medical simulation has yet to make its way completely into the mainstream, says CAE Healthcare President Robert Amyot. He hopes the study provides the “scientific evidence” many educators are looking for to feel comfortable making simulation an integral part of their nursing programs.
The company markets patient simulators that can talk, breathe, blink and respond to medications and treatments. “We pay a lot of attention to the suspension of disbelief,” Amyot says.
The company’s first product — developed in 1994 with modeling technology licensed from the University of Florida — is a lifelike adult “manikin” built to help students simulate the administration of anesthesia. Other products now include a simulator named Lucina that lets students practice childbirth scenarios. Prices range from $40,000 to $250,000.
Five years ago, Teresa Gore, a nursing professor at the University of South Florida, helped develop international best-practice standards for using simulation in medical instruction. Under Florida law, pre-licensure nursing programs may substitute simulation for up to 50% of traditional clinical time.
Gore, who serves as president of the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation & Learning, says schools are trying to graduate more nurses to meet growing demand, but hospitals are limiting opportunities for nursing students to perform clinical procedures.
“A lot of hospitals won’t let students do things like administer medicine to a pediatric patient or insert a catheter into a bladder,” she says. But once nursing students graduate, she says, “they’re expected to do those things.”
“Simulation,” she adds, “is a way to transition them into safe practitioners.”
A native of New Port Richey, Chon Nguyen got Microsoft-certified as a computer expert at age 16. After high school, he passed on college and became a tech entrepreneur. In 2011, he was running an IT company that served Tampa Bay restaurants when he did a walk-through of a professional kitchen and noticed a messy recipe binder. He saw an opportunity to help restaurants go paperless and streamline operations via iPad.
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