Medical Simulation Center

State-of-the-Art Medical Simulation Center at Newton-Wellesley Hospital
In January 2011, Newton-Wellesley Hospital opened the state-of-the-art Shipley Medical Simulation Center. This new Center, located on the Hospital campus, will play an integral role in training clinical staff members to respond to a number of situations that arise in the hospital setting. The Simulation Center was made possible through a generous donation from the Shipley Family.

"Medical simulation is a teaching strategy that mimics real-life situations," says Mark Hershey, MD, Anesthesiologist/ Co-Director of the ICU and Medical Director of the Simulation Center. "By engaging students in realistic situations, they develop clinical, behavioral and team skills in a safe and organized manner."

The Simulation Center is comprised of mock clinical settings made to replicate the same environment that clinicians practice in at the Hospital.

"Simulated clinical training is an idea adapted from airline industry flight simulators," says Dr. Hershey. "Studies have provided evidence that teamwork errors have been responsible for plane crashes and near misses. As a result, training in realistic flight simulators has become an integral part of the aviation industry. In health care, we know how important teamwork is to our success. Simulated training allows us to further advance these skills in a learning-focused environment."

SimMan® Manikins
The Simulation Center uses SimMan®, a portable and advanced patient simulator for team training. These high-fidelity manikins have fully computerized control, audiovisual interactive capability and realistic anatomy. SimMan® provides simulation-based education to challenge and test students’ clinical and decision-making skills during realistic patient care scenarios.

The SimMan® manikins utilize interactive technology, which allows learners to practice the emergency treatment of patients. The manikins are the size of an average adult patient and include realistic weight distribution and joint articulation. The Center will also use the SimBaby® manikin for infant and pediatric training.

Layout of the Center
The Center houses two clinical spaces that closely resemble actual hospital rooms with patient beds and the equipment used in patient care areas. The control room is located between the rooms with one-way windows so the controller can observe the scenario taking place and operate the manikins. There are also one-way windows in the hall looking into the rooms for more observation locations. The entire Center is equipped with video cameras and microphones to record the scenarios in order to use the footage during the debriefing.

"We have two debriefing rooms that can show a live feed of what is taking place in the clinical rooms," says Ann Mullen, RN, Program Manager of the Center. "This allows other participants to observe the simulation while it’s taking place. We also use pieces of the recorded video footage to teach and debrief after the simulated event has taken place. This is a very important part of the learning process. We work with the teams to evaluate how they approached the event and what changes they could make to be even more effective the next time."

One of the debriefing rooms also contains computers for screen-based simulation training and for participants to read various materials before their training takes place.

"The Center was designed to be a flexible environment to accommodate multiple courses in various clinical settings," say Ann. "It is a combination of clinical space and a behind-the-scenes observation area to create an ideal learning atmosphere."

Collaborative Environment
Hands-on simulation helps teams and individuals develop preparedness and insight that is best learned and practiced in realistic conditions. This translates into improved real-world communication, collaboration, teamwork and crisis management.

"Simulation training embraces the idea of emotional learning," says Dr. Hershey. "Participants reach an emotional state where learning influences retention when they are immersed in a simulated crisis event. Practicing this simulated event in this highly charged emotional setting carries over to improved care during real-life crises. Practice really does make perfect."

The Center also provides clinicians the vehicle to practice high-risk and clinically important maneuvers in a simulated, safe environment. This training tool allows the medical team to practice and perfect techniques before they move to the bedside.

Learning By Doing
"There are some skills that must be learned by doing," says Dr. Hershey. "I compare this concept to learning to drive. You can only learn so much sitting in the passenger’s seat – when you get in the driver’s seat, then you get a feel for how it’s done."

The Simulation Center will allow teams at the Hospital to practice their response to different situations, such as cardiac arrest, instead of working together for the first time during a real-life event.

"By creating a safe, simulated environment, we are able to train nurses, physicians and other members of the health care team in an atmosphere that creates a sense of comfort and confidence," says Ann. "Some situations in the clinical setting require very specific technical skills that can only be learned through practice. The Simulation Center allows us to practice these skills without any risk."

Training Opportunities
Some of the trainings that will take place in the Simulation Center include:

  • Cardiac arrest team training
  • Common emergencies in adult, pediatric and newborn patients
  • Anesthesia crisis management
  • Labor & Delivery crisis management

Both Ann and Dr. Hershey agree that the mission of the Center is to further develop and promote excellence in clinical care.

"The potential uses of medical simulation are expanding dramatically as research demonstrates the value of this unique training tool," says Ann. "We are also working to integrate this teaching technique into our nursing orientation program to provide expanded experience for complex patient situations and rare events."

The Simulation team is looking forward to rolling out the various training opportunities to patient care teams across the Hospital.

"The Simulation Center at Newton-Wellesley is an example of dedication to excellence – from the top down," says Dr. Hershey. "We are fortunate to work in a place that provides us with the sources to develop this type of high-quality program. Only a handful of community hospitals around the country offer this type of training. The entire team at Newton-Wellesley is committed to providing the very best care to our patients and the Simulation Center will greatly enhance these efforts."

Our Team
Ann Mullen, BSN, CCRN
Program Manager of the Medical Simulation Center
Newton-Wellesley Hospital 

Ann received her bachelor’s of science in nursing from the University of Massachusetts- Dartmouth. She is certified as a critical care nurse by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Ann also completed the Institute for Medical Simulation comprehensive graduate course at the Center for Medical Simulation in Cambridge.

Mark Hershey, MD
Anesthesiologist and Medical Director the Medical Simulation Center
Newton-Wellesley Hospital 

Dr. Hershey is board certified in anesthesiology, internal medicine and critical care. He received his medical degree from Columbia University. He completed his residencies at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital. While on staff at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, he became board certified in critical care.

Dr. Hershey also completed the Institute for Medical Simulation comprehensive graduate course at the Center for Medical Simulation in Cambridge.

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