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Simulation Teaching Tools

The College of Osteopathic Medicine 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.

Iowa Simulation Center

This state-of-the-art facility – encompassing the Surgery Skills LabSimulation Laboratory and Standardized Performance Assessment Laboratory – allows students to hone their diagnostic and clinical skills and patient care abilities using medical mannequins, cutting-edge technology and trained simulated patients, all with the supervision, guidance and feedback of outstanding faculty and experienced medical professionals.

Surgery Skills Lab

The Surgery Skills Lab includes simulation model labs, a computer technology lab and a simulation operating room lab with a digital over head camera, laparoscopic 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 suturing, knot-tying, surgical instrumentation, donning surgical gown and gloves, dissection, intravenous insertion practices and 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.

Simulation laboratory

A group of human medical simulators help students learn to care for more critically ill “patients.” These life-like mannequins have heart, lung and bowel sounds which can be programmed to be normal or abnormal. 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.

Harvey, 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.

Standardized Performance Assessment Lab

The Standardized Performance Assessment Lab (SPAL), is a simulated clinical setting that allows students to develop and refine their communication skills by working with standardized patients who are 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 aid in learning clinical reasoning, students have access to computerized patient management through a library of cases called Diagnostic Reasoning (DXR). 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.

All of these resources supplement and help with the regular teaching methods of lecture, small group activities and teaching laboratories during your first two years as an osteopathic medicine student.