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Simulation Teaching Tools

The College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery makes extensive use of simulated learning methods for all students during the first two years of medical school. This helps prepare students for the clinical experience of clerkships while on rotation during the third and fourth years.

Surgery Skills Lab

Student in the surgery lab

Des Moines University Surgery Skills Lab includes simulation model labs, a computer technology lab and a simulation operating room lab with a digital overhead camera, laproscopic equipment and station monitors for viewing and recording procedures.

The Basic Surgical Skills Course, taken in the second year, emphasizes the fundamentals of basic aseptic technique theory and applications of clinical practice. Under the direction of surgical residents, surgical nurses and surgical teaching assistants, students are introduced to the following:

  • Suturing
  • Knot tying
  • Surgical instrumentation
  • Donning surgical gown and gloves
  • Dissection
  • Intravenous insertion practices
  • Other clinical/surgical procedures and equipment

The goal of this program is to provide students with a strong foundation in clinical/surgical skills prior to clinical rotation practice. As a result of this educational experience, students are prepared and confident to meet the challenges of performing and practicing skills during clinical rotations in their third and fourth years.

Harvey the cardiac simulator

Student with Harvey the human simulator

The cardiac simulator is designed to reproduce abnormal heart sounds to teach students what murmurs, clicks, rubs, etc sound like. The sounds are used in conjunction with lectures on physiology and anatomy to help students learn what causes these abnormal heart sounds to appear. By using Harvey, the students learn how to perform an appropriate cardiac exam, which valves are affected with certain diseases, and how to recognize common abnormal heart sounds.

The remaining simulators are used to help students learn to care for more critically ill “patients.” The mannequins have heart, lung and bowel sounds which you can program to be normal or abnormal. The students can draw “blood” from the simulators, start IVs, catheterize, defibrillate, intubate and perform chest compressions. The obstetrical mannequin also can deliver “babies” that are in good health or those that require resuscitation.

Standardized Performance Assessment Lab

The Standardized Performance Assessment Lab, or SPAL, is a simulated clinical setting that allows students to develop and refine their communication skills by working with actors trained to portray actual medical cases. Students gain valuable feedback on their diagnostic and communication skills by reviewing videotapes of their performance with simulated patients before seeing actual patients. Learn more about SPAL.

Diagnostic reasoning

To foster clinical skills, students use Diagnostic Reasoning (DxR) software. DxR provides a computer-based case history; students then work their way through a patient’s history and physical, order appropriate labs and x-rays, and use all the information to formulate a diagnosis. A faculty member guides the students through the case studies.