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New SMART Center is Smarter than the Average Sim Lab

Abington Memorial Hospital is proud to announce the opening of the highly-innovative Simulation Medicine of Abington Resource and Training (SMART) Center. The SMART Center is the latest training venue at AMH, offering cutting-edge team-based training as well as computer-based medical simulation resources.

The SMART Center is a valuable training tool for the medical community of AMH, using the most advanced and effective methods in medical simulation. The Center specializes in interdisciplinary and team-based training, in hopes of encouraging further collaboration outside of the lab, broadening the ability to recognize alternatives for delivering improved patient care and medical training.

Nursing and medical students, as well as clinical staff, utilize the Center to simulate real-life situations that they would encounter on any floor or unit of the hospital. With hands-on education and real-time training, the Center offers students and staff the ability to practice both common and uncommon scenarios in a high-fidelity, "no fault" environment.

By employing "hybrid patients" — a combination of advanced manikins and volunteer "actors" — students and staff using the SMART Center will get the most realistic learning experience possible, short of using real patients. Actors present the appropriate emotions related to the simulated event, while the manikins and other technology simulate real-time vital signs, heart rate and breathing. The reality that the actors provide adds an emotional aspect to the learning experience, making it the equivalent of a real-life clinical situation and providing training that will immediately impact subsequent patient encounters.

In order for participants to evaluate their performance, each simulated event is videotaped. Following the live scenario, the students participate in a debriefing with their instructor, where they reflect and dissect their performance. The debriefing session includes video breakdown, where the students can review each step taken in the scenario and evaluate their experience.

The SMART Center experience — with its cutting-edge simulation technology — is similar to a video game, giving students and staff the ability to learn, practice and review clinical experiences before treating patients at the bedside.

"The Nintendo Wii has nothing on us," says Baber Ghauri, M.D., medical director, Simulation Medicine. "Sitting in a classroom and listening to a lecture, students will absorb roughly 30 percent of the information they receive. With a hands-on, real-time approach, like that used in the SMART Center, students will retain closer to 60 percent of what they learn. In an industry with virtually limitless information, students can learn a great deal using simulation technology."

In fact, the SMART Center does use video games to educate students and staff. MicroSim, an innovative self-directed learning computer program, allows users to face patient scenarios with specific learning objectives designed to increase their medical knowledge, and better their problem solving and decision-making skills. MicroSim can be customized to fit any curriculum and can simulate any clinical situation imaginable. Medical learners will surely benefit from using the state-of-the-art educational technology.

Abington Memorial Hospital is one of the first community hospitals in the region to have such an advanced simulation lab — which is much more commonplace in a large university setting — and one of the first to use simulation medicine as an interdisciplinary learning tool. The Center is also utilized by AMH's Center for Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality, in order to test new policies and procedures, as well as specific research in measuring quality of care.

The SMART Center is available everyday, but an appointment is necessary to utilize the facility. Along with Ghauri, the SMART Center is staffed by Lynn Burbank, R.N., course coordinator, School of Nursing; Karen Sylvester, R.N., clinical coordinator, ETC; and Lisa Diegal, R.N., ETC.

For more information about Abington Memorial Hospital's SMART Center, please call 215-481-2222.

SMART Center