The physician assistant program makes extensive use of simulated learning methods for all students. This helps prepare students for the clinical experience of clerkships while on rotation.
Surgery Skills Lab
Des Moines University’s Surgery Skills Lab includes simulation model labs, a computer technology lab and a simulation operating room lab. Basic surgical skills instruction emphasizes the fundamentals of basic aseptic technique theory and suturing. It has a digital overhead camera, station monitors for viewing and recording prodedures and laparoscopic equipment.
Human simulation models
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 delivers 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.
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.