Inside a room in the Academic Wing at Niagara Health’s St. Catharines Site, a medical team is caring for a patient with a serious head injury.
Time is of the essence. They work in tandem using the Difficult Airway Pathway, which was developed by Niagara Health, to secure the patient’s airway, allowing him to be ventilated.
In this case, the “patient” was actually a mannequin and the exercise was part of the second annual Simulation Day event that saw Niagara Health team members train with medical learners from the Niagara Regional Campus of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.
The event, hosted by the Development & Education in Simulation Interprofessional Group of Niagara (DESIGN), featured eight simulations stations, including a pediatric emergency case using video technology to connect the Niagara team with doctors at McMaster Children’s Hospital, practicing suturing skills and how to speak with a patient about a difficult diagnosis.
"Simulation Day is one of the many ways Niagara Health partners with McMaster University to further our research and academic mandate and foster safe spaces for learning,” says Dr. Johan Viljoen, Niagara Health’s Chief of Staff. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to use technology innovatively and rehearse complex medical situations in a safe environment. It also demonstrates the importance of healthcare providers working together as a team."
The event is led by Niagara Health Emergency Department physician Dr. James Beecroft, who is also the Simulation Lead of the Niagara Regional Campus of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University.
"It gives you the opportunity to practice how to manage some of these very rare, but extremely time-critical environments," says Dr. Beecroft. "Plus it’s an environment that you can give people feedback afterwards, too."
Simulation is valuable for both medical learners and experienced healthcare professionals, says Dr. Beecroft.
"It gives you an opportunity to practice some of the technical skills and some of the medical knowledge and whatever has changed," he says. "The most important thing is being able to build a team environment where you’re dealing with crisis resource management, so it’s leadership skills and communication skills to make things better."
'This is what engages them'
Dr. Amanda Bell, Regional Assistant Dean for the Niagara Regional Campus of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, says simulation training is critical for medical learners
"Simulation is an opportunity for our learners to practice, experience and get good at what they’re doing in a safe environment,” says Dr. Bell. “This allows them to touch things, see things and do things with low stakes before they’re in the actual patient environment.”
Dr. Bell says students embrace the opportunity to do hands-on training.
"This is what engages them. They’re willing to use this as strategy to get comfortable and to get good. At Niagara Health because of the way simulation is done, they’re learning with other healthcare professionals."
The event opened with a keynote address by Dr. Richard Cherry, the Director of Anesthesia and Critical Care Teaching Through Simulation at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.
Dr. Cherry’s discussion focused on the connection between simulation and Crisis Resource Management.
Read the St. Catharines Standard story from the event here.