What Is Simulation?

Children all over the world benefit from the innovative work of the Center for Simulation, Advanced Education and Innovation. Because of its vast expertise, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) draws patients with the rarest conditions. It provides cutting-edge treatments and uses state-of-the-art equipment. The center prepares all levels of healthcare providers — from the newly minted clinicians to the world-renowned specialist — helping them to be at their most confident when they care for their patients. That takes practice, evaluation and feedback, and then more practice.

What is simulation?

simulation trainingSimulation uses interactive medical manikins, a life-size anatomical model that can be programmed and controlled by computer. The goal of simulation is to ensure that doctors are practiced and prepared for a real-life situation.

Behind the scenes at Children's Hospital, clinicians are doing just that — practicing real medical scenarios and perfecting skills through simulation. While invisible to patients, this type of practice ensures that each physician, nurse and doctor-in-training at the Hospital is providing the most expert possible care.

Where does simulation happen?

Simulations take place in a traditional Center for Simulation, a mock patient room with an adjacent classroom. Others take place in the units or operating rooms where patient care actually happens. Some simulations use high-tech medical manikins; others use trained actors as patients or parents. Still others, like for interventional radiology and robotic surgery, use special virtual reality training equipment, similar to the way pilots use a flight simulator.            

Many training exercises are designed to build effective communication and teamwork among staff in different divisions and shifts who may not be accustomed to interacting. In this way, simulation benefits not only new personnel, but helps reinforce and improve safety behaviors Hospital-wide.

About the medical manikins

Simulation trainingManikins are as tiny as a 1-pound, 1-ounce infant and as big as an older teen. Their realistic bodies hide sophisticated electronics that allow them to act and react as a real child or adolescent would. The accompanying computer gives practitioners the manikin's vital signs in real time, showing if resuscitation efforts are improving the heart rate and oxygen levels.

Manikins can be preprogrammed to act as if they're having a seizure, a cardiac arrest, a blocked airway, an allergic reaction, or a multitude of other problems. Switch out an arm and a nurse can administer an IV (a pouch inside accumulates the fluid). Attach a different leg and a physician can stabilize and cast a broken bone or suture a deep cut. To simulate rashes or other skin conditions, a manikin may wear makeup.

Simulation education and training

The Center for Simulation at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia employs simulation to orient and prepare professionals when they first come to CHOP, and annually to ensure they maintain excellence. It also trains residents and fellows to be the leading pediatricians of tomorrow. The center's reputation for excellence is attracting national and international attention. Dr. Vinay Nadkarni, Center Director, and his colleagues operate a series of “boot camps,” both at CHOP and at hospitals as far away as Spain, Taiwan, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. These seminars share the center’s techniques with fellows and facilitators from other hospitals and the Center for Simulation. In addition, hundreds of parents and caregivers are better prepared to care for their children because of simulation training at CHOP.