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Education and Professional Development

Nov. 18, 2019 – The first part of my visit with the education and professional development team was reminiscent of a family holiday meal. We all sat around a large, festively decorated table, shared stories and ate delicious food. I learned that the majority of this nine-person team transitioned from a clinical background, with former CHET team members, nurses and nursing assistants among the group.

Enjoying some delicious food as I met the team

One team member, Megan Barbosa, worked as a nurse in outpatient hematology/oncology before becoming a lead in this department and Magnet® coordinator. She shared the news that Rady Children’s will be submitting for its second Magnet designation on Feb. 1, 2021. The Hospital achieved its first recognition in 2017 as a reflection of its nursing professionalism, teamwork and excellence in patient care. Achieving Magnet recognition is no small task, and Megan is already working to write and assemble documents together for submission.

A big part of what this team does is offer simulation-based training, which allows Hospital staff and providers to practice and train on highly realistic manikins and other state-of-the-art simulation equipment. This group supports about 600 learners every month. The program has experienced phenomenal growth since the Center for Innovative Learning opened in 2018 to offer certification and simulation-based classes. This type of training is a powerful way to increase safety and develop learning experiences that emphasize teamwork.

Checking out the IV arm simulators

Next, I got a fascinating tour of all the simulation rooms. We first looked at a complete set of IV arm simulators (adult, pediatric and baby), which allow medical staff to practice blood collection, intravenous injection and infusion. The simulated arms were extremely realistic, both in look and feel. I then got to try my hand at an intraosseous infusion, which involves drilling into the bone in order to provide fluids and medications directly into the vascular system — definitely something that requires practice before attempting on a real patient!

I then headed to a different room where there is a baby manikin available specifically to practice lumbar punctures. I didn’t attempt that one, but instead tried my hand at intubating another manikin with a difficult airway. That one was tough! Next, we moved on to a highly sophisticated newborn simulator — an eight pound “baby” that is hooked up to a computer. This manikin can simulate complex medical situations that happen in the NICU, such as seizures and difficulty breathing, and allow medical staff to respond with realistic interventions.

Listening to the newborn sim baby’s heart

We then stopped to see Michael and Michelle, two pediatric “sim dolls” that help train new grad nurses and respiratory therapists on a variety of treatments and interventions, helping them to build confidence and competence and perform better with actual patients. The final simulation manikin we saw was Pediatric HAL®, the most advanced pediatric patient simulator available. HAL can talk!  He told me he was five years old and how he was feeling. HAL also communicates through facial expressions and movements. In fact, when he got upset, tears began to flow from his eyes. HAL can be hooked up to a broad range of real patient monitors and sensors; he responds to emergency interventions such as surgical airway, needle decompression and chest tube insertion; and he has interactive eyes and color-changing skin and  heart, lung and bowel sounds, among other incredible features.

Experiencing virtual reality

My final stop was in the virtual reality room. Sim Project Coordinator Lawrence Hamilton helped me put on virtual reality goggles and walked me through how to use special handheld controllers. I then entered a virtual room with rows of hearts on a wall.  Each 3D heart had a different condition. I decided to examine a heart with a single left ventricle. The technology was mind-blowing. Using the hand controllers, I was able to rotate and manipulate the heart, look inside and remove portions of the heart. Amazing stuff! I could have played with it all day, but time was running short.

As we wrapped up, the team sent me off with homemade granola and cupcakes, and a fantastic new stamp for my passport. Thanks for showing me all of this incredible technology that will help new grads and seasoned veterans alike learn and enhance their skills. The work you are doing is critical to helping Rady Children’s provide the very best care to our patients.