Saigh Pediatric Center Opens

From the Washington University Record, May 7, 2009
By Beth Miller

Students at the School of Medicine have two new state-of-the-art simulation centers in which they can get hands-on clinical training.

The Saigh Foundation Pediatric Simulation Center opened April 14 at St. Louis Children's Hospital, and the Howard and Joyce Wood Simulation Center at the Farrell Learning and Teaching Center opened last fall. Both centers allow medical students, interns and residents training at the school to fine-tune diagnostic and treatment skills in a realistic situation.

The 5,600-square-foot Wood Simulation Center has mannequins that allow instructors to program changes in the circulation or respiratory system to illustrate principles learned in the classroom, said David Murray, M.D., the Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Professor and director of the center.

Simulated events are used to provide experiences in managing high-acuity conditions. The scenarios and associated instructor feedback provide a safe yet lifelike learning environment for medical students to acquire essential skills required in clinical care.

In addition, a task training room is available for students to learn many of the physical exam and procedural skills expected in clinical practice. Mary E. Klingensmith, M.D., associate director of the center and director of the Surgical Skills Laboratory, oversees this aspect of the center.

"Students are able to learn basic skills such as IV insertion and some of the more invasive aspects of the physical examination free from the pressures of patient discomfort and harm," she said.

The center was made possible by a gift from Howard and Joyce Wood, both graduates of the Olin Business School and certified public accountants. Howard Wood is a member of the Board of Trustees, the Olin School of Business National Council and the School of Medicine Finance Committee. Joyce Wood is a member of the National Council of the School of Medicine and of the National Advisory Council of the Institute for Public Health.

The 2,300-square-foot Saigh Foundation Pediatric Simulation Center, developed with support from the Saigh Foundation to St. Louis Children's Hospital, is the only medical simulation center within 300 miles dedicated specifically to pediatric patients. The center, on the fifth floor of St. Louis Children's Hospital, has three mannequins — a newborn, a toddler and a young adolescent — each with a unique physiology.

James Fehr, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and director of the center, said the simulation experience will make medical students better prepared to handle a patient's bedside challenges — improving responsiveness, situational awareness and team interactions.

"As a parent, I'd rather have the most educated practitioner possible caring for my child," Fehr said. "This is a method of bringing education in an almost-real and immersive environment."

Fehr and his team plan to use the simulation center to enhance existing academic training models.

The center is set up to resemble an operating room, with the same tools, equipment and work stations one would find in a typical operating environment. The simulated operating room sits between a control room, where computer technology and robotics control the subjects' signs and symptoms and manipulate mounted cameras that allow instructors to closely monitor a drill in progress, and a debriefing room, where students can gather after the drill, watch a video replay and discuss what they learned.

The two new simulation centers are in addition to the Clinical Simulation Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Surgical Skills Lab at the School of Medicine.