The students are excited and the teachers have great expectations for the new simulation learning environment completed at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in 2010.
Although simulations are already in use at the university, faculty is currently establishing more precisely which parts of the curriculum simulation training should be applied to. As team leader for the paramedic training Iira Lankinen, puts it: ''Rather than providing this training to our students just because it's fun, we wish to apply the method where the students can benefit the most.''
Simulation supports all levels of the training
Simulation has already been tried out at all the different learning stages. First year students have applied the method to acquire professional ethics, practice decision making and to train group dynamics. Students at different stages of their degree have also practiced together in the simulation-learning environment, where older students have provided constructive feedback following a scenario. This way the younger students have learned from the more experienced and also had a 'preview' of what to expect later in their studies.
Depth in learning
Lecturer Åker explains that the patient simulators are exceptionally effective when learning critical patient care: ''The students were wondering why the patient simulator was hard to ventilate and why the SpO2 level was decreasing. Soon they discovered the pressured pneumathorax. The students applied needle thoracocentesis to relieve the pressure, and as a response they got a good wheeze. Further, the ventilating became easier and the SpO2 value rose. With the help of the patient simulator the students got a unique understanding of what a trauma situation may actually look like and how the treatment affects the 'patient'. Many students say they learn more during one day of simulation training than from other teaching all together. The main point is that the students obtain a deeper theoretical understanding when they perform practical scenario training in the simulation environment,'' concludes Åker.
Training across the healthcare diciplines
EMT and paramedic students have trained together, simulating a graduated emergency care system and medical students have trained together with the paramedic students. In the future, the plan is to take the the concept of multi-professional training a step further; e.g. have nurse students observe and learn more about the paramedic dicipline and vice versa. This way students can learn the different stages in the chain of care and get a better understanding of other teams' tasks and responsibilities. ''This is an experience you cannot get from anywhere else than simulation training,'' says Åker.
New skills lab enables self managed learning
Metropolia is building a skills lab where students can train practical skills independently. There will be different kinds of equipments to practice examining patients and patient care.
''In the future students will also be responsible for their own learning, as it is possible for everyone to acquire and practice independently in the skills lab as much as they want,'' says Lankinen.
Further plans ahead
Metropolia university aims to apply simulation based learning across all their healthcare programs, why the training facilities will soon double in size. The extended simulation environment will comprise an ambulance and every room is designed to be versatile and multifunctional.
''When we have the ward and emergency room set up; nurses, community health nurses and midwives can train patient care in a safe and realistic environment,'' says Lankinen. About getting the green light, she says; ''When planning the simulation learning environment, our organization understood that this new training method was going to be an important part of our teaching methods. When the purchase proposal was made, no real persuasion was needed, as the purchase was well argued. Metropolia wants to ensure teaching with the best methods available.''
Metropolia is also planning an impact study of simulation teaching.