The University of Findlay’s College of Pharmacy is seeking new ways to train its students for the situations they will encounter after graduation. The college’s newest teaching tool involves a robotic, high-tech patient simulator known as SIM Man, which simulates a real patient.
“To be able to simulate real life in the lab is hard,” says John Stanovich, R.Ph., assistant dean of the College of Pharmacy.
The SIM Man allows the college to expose students to real-world situations. The robotic patient is as close to a human as possible.
The SIM Man is capable of an impressive array of bodily functions. Upon command, SIM Man:
- bleeds from bodily wounds;
- secretes and responds to radiological and biological agents;
- blinks, cries and performs other eye signs; and
- responds to drugs administered based on different scenarios.
The SIM Man is programmed for use in an almost endless spectrum of possibilities. In addition, all activities are monitored by cameras in both the set-up hospital room and sensors within the robot.
“Simple mistakes can happen. These real-life situations help students prepare for dealing with patients and help to reduce the number of errors,” said Stanovich. The SIM Man is still new, and the College of Pharmacy faculty continue to find new methods for providing in-depth training for its students. Oftentimes, they create a scenario where the SIM Man is a patient sent to an emergency room. The students are told only where the patient is feeling pain.
Students must diagnose the SIM Man based on an examination. Occasionally, volunteer actors are brought in to play the part of the patient’s family or friends. Students get the opportunity to question these actors in order to aid them in the examination. The project ends with a full review and evaluation of the students’ work.
The SIM Man uses highly advanced technology, which can pose a variety of challenges. Despite its many functions, there is a steep learning curve for programming new scenarios into the simulator’s database. According to Stanovich, the College of Pharmacy continually trains its faculty to operate the SIM Man The high-tech simulator costs more than $80,000 and requires an extensive investment in time and training. However, pharmacy students get a competitive advantage in their career preparation from the use of the SIM Man.
“The possibilities with SIM Man go beyond the typical classroom setting and offer an experience to students that nothing else can compare with,” said Brean McDowell, sixth-year pharmacy major.
By Evan Rowland