It’s a normal day on the wards for residents and MD students at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH), until paramedics rush a patient with chest pains into the emergency room. A team of health professionals rapidly assemble. Two residents take the lead—organizing the ?team, making quick decisions in the face of uncertainty. ?A respiratory technician hooks the patient to oxygen, ?while a nurse attaches electrodes to monitor vital signs. ?An MD student helps paramedics transfer the patient to the emergency room stretcher. Then, suddenly, the patient moans, closes his eyes, and stops breathing.
The team’s response in the following minutes will determine whether the patient lives or dies.
Such a high-risk encounter might have proven too stressful for young physicians and health professional trainees, if not for the fact that the patient, though highly animated— he speaks, breathes, bleeds and vomits—is a high-tech mannequin and the centrepiece of simulation training exercises carried out in NRGH’s newly built academic space for UBC’s Faculty of Medicine.
The Faculty now has more than 900,000 square-feet of academic space province-wide for training young doctors in simulated and real-life situations. New hospital-based academic spaces in Surrey, Campbell River, Comox, Duncan, Prince George, Kelowna and Kamloops, complete with video conference technology, seminar and clinical skills rooms, offices, and lounges —will soon transform learning for MD students and residents by placing them at the center of care in community hospitals throughout British Columbia.
Part of the Faculty’s ongoing efforts to train doctors in rural communities across B.C., such spaces keep students connected to their supervisors, their colleagues, and to the curriculum while undergoing training in a hospital by providing a safe place to discuss patients and learning objectives. Video-conferencing allows learners and physicians to participate in seminars and lectures taking place elsewhere in the province. Access to books, clinical materials and a medical library enables students to learn more about what they are seeing on the hospital wards. In these real-world settings, students receive hands-on learning and supervision from physicians and inter-professional members of the healthcare team; however, learning often goes far beyond clinical skills.
“Collaboration is one of the newer things we encounter on the wards,” ?says Shelly Mark, a third-year MD student in the Island Medical Program. “Going through medical school you learn about diagnosis, therapy, interviewing patients and medical history-taking, but on the wards you get to meet with patients and their family, and with other healthcare professionals. It’s nice to see all of the services and work a healthcare team puts in for a patient, and to see the outcome is quite satisfying.”
For Mark, who is from Ucluelet, and hopes to stay on the Island for residency training and one day practise medicine near her hometown, moving beyond the campus classroom and large urban centres to community hospitals has better prepared her for the future.
“It is a fantastic way to learn and practise medicine. We have more ?clinical exposure earlier on,” says Mark. “We’re having a lot of fun, but we are learning a lot at the same time. We are meeting a lot of patients and doctors and getting career counselling along the way.”
As for the mannequin, he survived to help the next team practise response to acute stroke.
Follow B.C.’s only medical school on Twitter @UBCmedicine.