Fake Patients: Real Training

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. They breathe, cry and their hearts beat. New mechanical patients are giving med students a way to practice life-saving procedures before doing the real thing.

Students learn how to listen to the heart.

"If you don't put the stethoscope in the right place, you don't get a heart sound," Debra Danforth, M.S., A.R.N.P., F.A.A.N.P., an assistant professor at Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee, Fla., told Ivanhoe.

The simulators also help the students identify abnormal beats and perfect their bedside manners.

The mannequins can be programmed to test the student's skills unexpectedly. The wrong move could mean disaster, but the right move means a life saved. For these students, it's an invaluable tool.

"We can practice lots of procedures that are sometimes scary and daunting," Ashley Newell, a second-year medical student, told Ivanhoe. "You know, you won't hurt the mannequin, whereas you could really hurt a patient."

"It's not even just the fear of not knowing what to do. It's also the fear of well how do I get all the instruments together, and how do I look professional in front of the patients?" Juline Machado, a second-year medical student, explained to Ivanhoe.

The simulators are preparing the doctors of tomorrow for whatever comes their way.

More people die in a year from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer or AIDS, making medical training critical. The patient simulators cost between $40,000-$200,000.

Doug Carlson
Public Affairs and Communications
Florida State University College of Medicine
Tallahassee, FL
(850) 645-1255

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