One of the most exciting and innovative methods of teaching clinical anesthesiology is through the use of human simulation. The Department of Anesthesiology at West Virginia University has demonstrated its commitment to education by being one of the first in the US in its purchase of the METI Human Patient Simulator in 1998. This early acquisition, one of the first 50 manufactured, indicates our pursuit and acceptance of innovation leading to excellence. The core of the sophisticated device is an extremely life-like mannequin that breathes, has pulses, heart sounds, and an airway that can be programmed for different degrees of obstruction. It generates EKG signals, invasive pressure waveforms, expired carbon dioxide, and even thumb twitches to measure neuromuscular blockade. Computer modeling allows the instructor to select or create a baseline patient profile with complex physiologic attributes such as coronary artery disease, pregnancy, or advanced age.
The instructor then chooses interesting scenarios such as acute hemorrhage, aortic cross clamping, or anaphylaxis. It is up to the care team to use their skills of physical diagnosis, interpretation of data from monitors and experience to make the proper management decisions. Automatic drug recognition allows the simulator to react in real time to pharmacologic treatment.
In anticipation of the ACGME’s “Milestones Project” we have a series of simulation based, level-specific Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) to assess the progression of our residents’ skill level. Our Simulation Program has merged with the School of Medicine to create the WV STEPS (Simulation Training and Education for Patient Safety) Program. This center provides a greatly enlarged facility to provide comprehensive simulation experiences.
Led by the anesthesiology faculty, residents will have the chance multiple times a year to engage in simulation sessions to discuss and practice case scenarios that are challenging and require thinking outside the box. Residents will get the chance to try new airway techniques and receive feedback on their performance. In addition, residents will work with other residency programs at WVU for specific scenarios in a team-oriented manner.