“Just relax,” said Kristen, “you are in good hands.” 
Kristen is a Massasoit Community College Respiratory Care student and she is talking to PAT, the SimMan Patient Simulator at New England Sinai Hospital in Stoughton, MA.  It’s been nearly two years since New England Sinaiin partnership with Massasoit Community College,was awarded a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education that funded the $48,000 SimMan, or ‘PAT’, which stands for Patient and Teacher, as staff and students fondly refer to him. In that period of time PAT has gone from an amazing vision of the future to an essential learning tool that is used every day.

Only three hospitals were selected to receive a SimMan Patient Simulator grant. The joint grant proposal showcasing the unique partnership of the two organizations is one of the reasons they were selected, with a Massachusetts Department of Higher Education official calling the award a “testament to the collaborative grant proposal.” Sinai and Massasoit Community College have a long history of collaboration. Now with SimMan in residence the relationship continues to be positive. “Educating current and future nurses, and clinical professionals is our joint mission,” said Gail Slotnick, MBA, RN BC, and Director of Professional Development at Sinai.  “He lives here with us and we partner with Massasoit to train their students here using PAT as the patient.  Sinai has served as a clinical site for Massasoit’s nursing and respiratory care students for over two decades.”  Barbara Waible, R.N., M.S.N., and Chairperson of the Nurse Education Department of Massasoit Community College states, “Massasoit students are welcomed on patient units with an instructor and Sinai’s staff serve as role models in patient care.”

Instructors utilize computer programs to create various medical scenarios for PAT. As students begin an exercise the ‘patient’s’ important information appears on a screen by the bed. As they treat him, PAT’s body reacts just as a human’s would, and provides an extremely realistic experience  that tests students’ clinical, decision-making, and even interpersonal skills as they talk to the patient and work as a team through each case. Their instructor, Martha Desilva, R.R.T., M.Ed., and Chairperson of the Respiratory Care Department in the Nursing and Allied Health Division of Massasoit Community College hovers nearby asking quick response questions, “What’s the first thing you do?” Jen, another respiratory student responds, “You introduce yourself and check his wristband.”  Martha tells us, “The more you do it, the better you get at it. As we progress with schooling, we advance with SimMan.” Martha is the coordinator of the clinicals with SimMan for both the Respiratory Care and Nursing students.

Not only do Massasoit students get to learn from this amazing tool but Sinai nurses and staff receive training using SIM Man as well. Sinai is a long-term acute care hospital that provides care for patients with pulmonary, complex medical, critical and chronic conditions. PAT helps staff to train and practice for re-certifications, responding to codes, and Advanced Cardiac Life Support. PAT also plays an important role in helping to teach family members how to care for their loved ones at home.  The incorporation of simulation training into any education curriculum allows for learning to take place in a very guided and unique way.  The critical part of absorbing and holding onto the new information or learning objective is enhanced because the learner is actively participating and is “in the moment.”  The individual responds during a period of heightened emotion and awareness – this helps to imprint the important information or clinical steps to be taken on the brain.

Teamwork, knowledge, community, and caring are sometimes overlooked as necessary elements to effective career education; here these qualities are fostered by Massasoit and Sinai staff working closely together to provide clinical experience. SimMan is a major advancement in nursing and respiratory care education, but the most valuable resource just might be the model collaboration between these two organizations who share a vision and work together to enhance clinical education and quality patient care.