In April 2018, Alameda Health System (AHS) opened its new simulation center, the Health Professions Training and Education Center. This cutting-edge facility helps train current and future healthcare professionals and allows them to perfect their skills in a safe and instructive environment. Keep reading to learn more about AHS’ remarkable new simulation center and its HealthPATH program.
Alameda Health System Is Committed to Healthcare Education
In 1990, AHS launched its first career development program, Health Excellence and Academic Leadership (HEAL). Over time, it grew into HealthPATH, which offers multiple programs that target students at different stages of their training. HealthPATH aims to introduce and prepare young people for healthcare careers, with the goal of developing a healthcare workforce that is as diverse as AHS’ patients.
Today, HealthPATH connects more than 500 young people and students with internships and work-based learning opportunities each year. Its programs range from middle school job shadowing and entry-level internships to fellowships for recently graduated physicians. According to HealthPATH data, 92% of its participants plan on pursuing a career in healthcare and 86% are interested in working at a “safety net” hospital like AHS’ Highland Hospital. It’s estimated that the program will reach 1,500 students each year by 2022.
In 2015, the AHS Foundation received a five-year, $10 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies for HealthPATH. It used some of these funds to build, equip, and staff the simulation center. However, the simulation center will also serve a broader community. Along with training future generations of healthcare providers, the center will also support Alameda Health System’s current staff and physicians.
Simulation Centers Offer Students and Providers Unparalleled Learning Opportunities
In the past, healthcare professionals learned through an apprenticeship model in which medical theory and lectures are supplemented with practical, real-life experiences. However, there’s a degree of luck involved in this type of training. Students aren’t guaranteed to see every possible situation on a hospital floor, and they might not experience them frequently enough to build “muscle memory” and consistent competency.
A simulation center allows students and healthcare providers the opportunity to work on lifelike, anatomically-correct manikins that use technology to simulate symptoms, vital signs, and patient reactions. Manikins can also communicate and mimic bodily functions and experiences (including childbirth). Trained educators can program specific situations that expose students to diverse experiences — ranging from cardiac arrest to working through a power failure.
As students insert IVs, track vital signs, and provide treatment to the manikins, their trainers can assess and record their performance and provide feedback. Their respective successes and failures can then be framed as teaching moments.
Because simulation centers don’t put patients at risk, educators can let participants learn from their mistakes. Repeated exposure and practice in a simulation center helps students apply their knowledge, build confidence, and achieve mastery. These features are the same reason that simulation is popular in other high-risk, fast-paced fields — such as the military, aviation, and nuclear energy industries.
As the Healthcare Industry Transitions to Value-Based Care, Simulation Centers Play a Vital Role
As healthcare shifts to a value-based system that focuses on patient outcomes, experiences, and other quality metrics, simulation centers offer a significant benefit to providers. The more students and providers are exposed to situations, the more efficiently and effectively they will respond. Over time, this will improve patient safety, reduce the risk of complications, and decrease overall health costs.