SimMan 3G: First Impressions
Andrew Mallett is a Registered Nurse who lectures in Nursing and IT in various institutions in Australia. He has been involved in setting some of the first SimMan 3G models in the country. The mannequin is used for teaching nursing, medical students and other health care professionals. Andy talks about the implications for the adoption of such new technology.
Q. So some of the first SimMan 3Gs in Australia? How did this come about?
A. One training facility had a new clinical education centre which included an immersive simulation unit for high fidelity training. Other mannequins such as Resusci-Anne and the original SimMan had been in use for some time. Working closely with Laerdal the manufacturers, it was one of the first Australian training institutions on the list for the new 3G model. Since then I have been consulted on a number of projects relating to the implementation of simulation training and equipment.
Q. And how does he compare to the original Sim?
A. Well he has a number of significant features over the previous model. He has two tanks for water and fake blood, to emulate fluid loss, such as exsanguination (bleeding) from certain parts of his torso and diaphoresis (sweating) from the forehead, as well as tears, frothing and urinary output. As nurses we get pretty excited about body fluids. He has two internal air compressors in his leg for functions such as breathing, whereas the previous SimMan had to use medical air or a bulky external compressor. Together with wireless control, this means he is totally portable which means we can also move him and take him out and about for training. He can even recognise and react to over 100 prescription medications.
Q. Does 3G require a lot of technical know-how to operate?
A. He certainly does! Even more than the original SimMan. The skills and knowledge of the simulation team are important. Simulation staff usually need a health science background such as nursing. I am also a Computer Networks Engineer, so that really helps to keep all the angles covered. It's an unusual combination of skills. Simulation centres themselves are a comparatively recent modality for the training of health care personnel.
Q. You talk about him as a male. What about female Sims?
A. Yes of course it's important to have both options. SimMan comes in a default male form but his physiology can be modified with interchangeable genitals and other body parts. We have lots of fun with wigs! As an example, he can be catheterised as a male or a female and if the procedure is carried out properly, s/he will produce urinary output.
Q. So he's just arrived in Australia. How new is he?
A. He was released in the United States first but he really hasn't been around all that long. One university had SimMan 3G number #100 in the world. The manufacturers told me the first 90 were still relatively experimental. So he was around 10th production model off the line. With such new technology it was necessary to work closely with Laerdal to iron out some of the inevitable rollout issues involved with such a new technology.
Q. And what are the implications for the future of simulation training?
A. Well the future is looking very bright! 3G brings technical features which will stay current for the next decade or so. Of course it's not just about technology, in fact the mannequins are only a part of it. Immersive simulation is literally about immersing learners, be they at undergraduate or post-graduate level, in an environment which closely matches the world of actual clinical practice. Scenarios have to be carefully planned and the environment must be believable. A lot of effort is put into the audio-visual infrastructure which allows participants to see themselves and their colleagues 'in action'. Sessions are monitored live and also recorded for debrief sessions. It is even possible to 'stop time' in the middle of a scenario for a brief 'pause-and-discuss'. The whole thing is extremely powerful and participants come away with very positive experiences.
Article posted 16.07.2009