Rice Energy Family Simulation Center recognized as a Center of Excellence

In August, the Rice Energy Family Simulation Center at Washington Hospital Recognized as a Center of Excellence by Gaumard Scientific, a global healthcare simulation leader.

Philanthropy from private donors, foundations, government, and community organizations made the state of the art Rice Energy Family Simulation Center possible in our community.

“Words cannot describe how much we appreciate our donors’ generosity,” Pernock says. “They did not just build a simulation facility.  They have provided cutting edge tools to help improve how we train our staff and how we treat our patients every day.”

Simulation education is the future of healthcare training, and one of the region’s most comprehensive simulation education centers is outside Pittsburgh – The Rice Energy Family Simulation Center at Washington Hospital.

Simulation learners treat realistic wireless manikins, or patient simulators, which approximate complex, life-like health conditions.  Instructors use software to direct medical scenarios. Simulators react positively or negatively to learners’ actions, and the software records responses for feedback and debriefing.

Washington Health System has trained its School of Nursing students, family medicine residents, and clinical staff at the Simulation Center since it opened in January 2016.

The center has fourteen full body simulators, including a pregnant patient who delivers a fully-operational newborn simulator, a premature baby, a 1 year old child, a 5 year old child, and a trauma patient.

Simulation allows learners to recognize, make clinical decisions, and use real equipment to treat serious medical conditions that they may not experience during their clinical education.  Skills learned through simulation directly benefit patients by improving their safety, treatment, and recovery.

WHS School of Nursing incorporates extensive simulation education in its 16-month nursing program.  Newly hired nurses complete simulation experiences as part of WHS’s Nurse Residency Program.

WHS developed two clinical staff courses – “First Five Minutes” and “Critical Thinking.”  “First Five Minutes” helps demonstrate standard behavior for primary responders in an emergency situation, including CPR. “Critical Thinking” helps boost performance when nurses receive multi-patient assignments.

The Simulation Center integrates innovative technologies to enhance training in other programs.  WHS School of Radiologic Technology’s simulation laboratory has the same computerized radiography system that clinical diagnostic centers use.  The center recently added an interactive laser simulator range which WHS Police uses for tactical judgment, force, and firearms training.

“It’s exciting to see the impact and results of the Simulation Center,” Chelsey Pernock, Coordinator of Simulation Operations, says.  “It has completely changed our clinical staff orientation and skills competency.”

“Our mission is to provide simulation-based education in a safe learning environment,” she adds.  “The center is a place where it is OK to make mistakes.  In the hospital, you move from patient to patient without the time to reflect.  Here, learners can complete a scenario and immediately analyze their actions.”

The Simulation Center is part of WHS’s effort to build the best prepared, best equipped professional team to care for patients.  Future plans include developing more needs-based staff courses before opening the facility to community groups.