TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Hawaii (Nov. 21, 2011) -- Tripler Army Medical Center's Medical Simulation Center recently achieved the Society for Simulation in Healthcare accreditation.

TAMC is the second simulation center in the Department of Defense to achieve this accreditation and the only one in Hawaii and Pacific region.

Ruth Andrews, the simulation center's administrator, said the center's main focus is graduate medical education programs, but they support all graduate professional health programs such as nursing, physicians assistant, and even staff training.

The center has a variety of simulators from simple task trainers all the way through the high-fidelity simulators that allow training on many skills.

"The old paradigm used to be 'See one; Do one; Teach one,' and now it's moving toward 'Simulate one; Do one; Teach one,'" said Maj. Taylor Sawyer, medical simulation director. "This (evolution) is very important (to medical training)."

Sawyer explained that right out of medical school a lot of the residents haven't experienced or performed any procedures.

Andrews said this is why simulation is so important now in medical training facilities.

"In simulation, you can practice as often as you want without risk of injuring anyone," said Andrews. "You use it to build your skills and your knowledge."

"The bottom line is patient safety," she added.

Sawyer said the validation is a representation of the center's significance to TAMC.

"The accreditation validates education that the people who are doing the simulations provide," he said. "The data that the residents who use the program accumulated assisted us in getting the accreditation. It validates the training that they are doing. It shows that (the center) is of a high level and been reviewed by people outside of Tripler and found to be good."

Andrews and Sawyer said this SSH accreditation is just the first step for the center. They want to help the center meet the same standards as other accredited simulation centers.

Now, the center is working toward an accreditation with the American College of Surgeons.

"We want Tripler to be in line with all the other facilities that are doing medical and/or surgical simulations," Andrews said. "A lot of times people look at training as training and do not directly link it to patient care. For us, we are really involved in patient care."

TAMC's simulation center is open 24/7 to students who get special permission.

"We try to work with residents and staff who work all different shifts," Andrews said. "They can practice as much as they want."

In fiscal year 2011, the TAMC Medical Simulation Center clocked more than 7500 training hours.