Simulation Center Proves an Immersive Place to Learn

Performing a simulated laparoscopic procedure in the Women's Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills are (from left) Aaron Turner, MD, Yalda Afshar, MD, and Candice Daneshvar, MD.

Cedars-Sinai's most advanced teaching platform, the Women's Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills, known as the sim center, is a state-of-the-art immersive environment that replicates the reality of the surgical environment. It allows teams and individuals to practice, innovate and work with the latest technology. Medical education has been a core mission of the medical center since its earliest days, and the simulation center keeps Cedars-Sinai at the forefront.

The 10,000-square-foot facility includes two fully functioning operating rooms, an intensive care unit, an Ob-Gyn room, a trauma bay and a neonatal ICU. Each environment is connected to one of two control rooms, where technicians use computers to create and control an infinite range of medical scenarios for teaching or practice purposes.

The "patients" are complex, computer-controlled mannequins, also known as "patient simulators." Patient simulators, which come in the form of adults, children, infants and neonates, can blink and breathe, have heart and lung sounds, and can be injected with medications. They have skin that can be cut with a scalpel, contain realistic, removable organs, and have a vascular system that can bleed and can accept a transfusion.

Via the technicians in the control rooms, the patients can speak to and interact with their caregivers, immersing participants in realistic medical scenarios.

In the Virtual Reality Skills Room, doctors, nurses and students can practice on simulators for bronchoscopy procedures, urologic procedures, ultrasound and robotic surgery, to name just a few.

"The simulation environment that exists at Cedars-Sinai is one of the best that exists in the U.S.," said Russell Metcalfe-Smith, the center's manager. "The level of detail that is here, the realism and the level of the medical equipment in the center are really quite incredible."

A life-size, computer-operated mannequin serves as the patient in the sim center. At right is Michael Leone, a simulation technician.

For Alistair Phillips, MD, co-director of the Cedars-Sinai Guerin Family Congenital Heart Program and chief of the Division of Congenital Heart Surgery, the simulation center has proved to be the perfect place to practice and refine the intricacies of heart surgery.

"The beauty of the sim center is it has real live information that is communicated exactly as we would see it in the O.R.," Phillips said. "The core of successful surgery is communication among the team, and with a simulation you can practice and refine everything from where a surgeon stands to how the equipment is set up."

"The simulation center concept has been around for a long time, but at Cedars-Sinai, the resources have been brought together at a level that creates an astounding environment," Metcalfe-Smith said. "It's about clinical treatment, and it's about communication, and at the end of all of this technology is, obviously, the well-being of the patient."

Completed in October 2013, the sim center is on the ground floor of the Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion.