What is simulation all about?

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Simulation is the imitation of a thing or process which interacts with an individual or system. It is used in many contexts some of which you will be familiar with already. Simulators are used in all sorts of environments and using all sorts of technology from mechanical driving simulators to video

games.

240px-Horse_simulator_WWI

In many ways children’s toys are a sort of simulation and some simulation systems are very sophisticated.

220px-Christer_Fuglesang_underwater_EVA_simulation_for_STS-116

Healthcare simulators have been used for centuries in various forms.  We can divide simulators into 3 categories:

  1. part-task simulators (used for teaching specific skills, e.g. cannulation, intubation)
  2. full-immersion simulators (used for imitating the whole environment)
  3. virtual reality simulation (computer generated environments)

We can have high and low fidelity depending on the amount of realism. For example, an orange used for teaching people how to give an injection is low-fidelity.

Injected orange

A modern aircraft simulator is high-fidelity.

Anaesthetic sim

Of course, there are all sorts of combinations and variations.

Birthing sim

The type of simulation we use for the FERRETS programme is full immersion, high-fidelity.Nurse and doctor

As we have become more familiar with what simulation can and cannot do we have realised using full-immersion high-fidelity simulation is an excellent way for team members to learn about what influences how teams work and how we can make them work more effectively.

Our simulation suite can be set up to represent a hospital ward, and Emergency Department bay, an operating theatre or recovery room. Our patient simulators are very complicated machines which mimic many things real patients do. The breathe, talk, open their eyes, have pulses and respond to drugs and fluids. However, they are not very real. They are made of plastic and have all the limitations of a plastic model. What is real, though, is the team in the room.Discussion

We use video to record and play back what goes on in the simulator. This will help you see (and, importantly) hear what was happening. It is often surprising how our impressions of an even are quite different from the one we see played back! We are very careful about what we do with the video. We don’t use it outside the centre without your permission. And we certainly don’t share it with anyone to make an assessment of you. The video is used to make the feedback sessions more useful for you. In fact the quality of our images is deliberately quite poor. It would be hard to recognise yourself if you didn’t know you were there!