William Beaumont Army Medical Center's Central Simulation Committee Medical Simulation Center recently gained provisional accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, an international organization promoting improvements in simulation technology, educational methods, and patient safety.
The Simulation Center at WBAMC supports Continuing Medical Education and Graduate Medical Education (CME/GME) to increase patient safety and practitioner competence. The center provides healthcare professionals with lifelike scenarios aimed at developing and shaping teamwork, communications and critical thinking skills to enhance outcomes.
"(Full accreditation means) we'll have an opportunity to bring different funding and programs into the organization and have broader opportunities," said Lt. Col. Olga Betancourt, deputy chief, Education Division, WBAMC. "In turn, these increased opportunities will affect patient care because residents will be able to practice more and conduct different research improving Army Medicine."
Although the simulation program at WBAMC is vastly focused on supporting the GME mission at WBAMC, CME is also profiting from the Sim Center's various programs designed to educate and refine nursing skills and training requirements, as well as honing the skills of Soldiers preparing for deployment. After documenting outcomes for two continuous years, the center will be eligible to reapply for full accreditation from the organization.
In preparing for the accreditation, staff members developed curriculum to evaluate detailed processes for each scenario presented to GME residents.
"Everything we do here is to assist in (GME residents') training development and to provide medical simulation for their respective programs," said Thomas Soto, Simulationist, WBAMC. "So when residents actually conduct a procedure for the first time, it isn't on a patient. It's training hands on with high-fidelity Manikins."
According to Betancourt, a native of Philadelphia, one of the first steps toward accreditation was formulating a multidisciplinary strategic plan to welcome creativity and collaboration thus developing the center's programs to benefit training.
"It's not just about doing the training but providing the curriculum that backs that training up such as what are the objectives, who's the target audience, and developing scenarios for different training events," said Soto, the simulation center's only dedicated simulationist. "Simulation isn't just providing a simulation the technician wants to show. This is targeted to residents and providers that are going to (or already) working on real patients and going out in to the community and performing these skills. It's very specific and really detailed."
Simulation programs at the center range from endoscopic surgery to neonatal care, benefiting all new healthcare professionals training at WBAMC from general surgery residents to the Army's junior enlisted medics.
"There's a lot of programs that are currently using the simulation program," said Betancourt, who also supervises operations in the simulation center. "One of the rooms we created within the sim center is a patient room, a lot of the students will actually come into the room and actually work with a (simulated) patient in the room."
Future plans include expanding the center's capabilities to include laparoscopic surgery, spinal fusions, and robot-assisted surgery simulations.
In addition to current capabilities, the center is also an approved Fundamentals of Endoscopic Surgery site, meaning residents may be evaluated on their fundamental knowledge, clinical judgement and technical skills at the center required in endoscopy, a requirement for most surgery residents in WBAMC's GME programs.
"We have the equipment and the site for designation which they need before graduating," said Soto, a native of Aransas Pass, Texas. "We're saving the Army money, getting residents trained and what they need to be credentialed."
Future developments with full accreditation will also provide the necessary training physicians may require, eliminating the need to travel to other medical centers or hospitals to conduct training.
Simulation center staff credits WBAMC's chief of education, Col. Susana Argueta, with initiating the accrediting process and collaborating with WBAMC leaders to develop program curriculums. Full accreditation across all Army Medicine simulation centers is also a goal to improve overall Army readiness.