Texas A&M University is set to establish a new Telehealth Institute as part of Texas A&M Health to advance interdisciplinary telehealth research, education and clinical services.
Experts in telesimulation create, facilitate and evaluate simulation trainings conducted from a distance for multiple industries
When you can’t get hands-on, real-world experience, learning through simulation or telesimulation is the next best thing. Simulation is a highly effective and innovative teaching, training and testing platform. In health care, simulation allows trainees to learn life-saving skills in a controlled and safe environment without risking the well-being of living humans. The Texas A&M University Health Science Center (Texas A&M Health) Clinical Learning Resource Center, or CLRC, has mastered simulation in health care, having provided students in nursing, medicine and pharmacy with immersive learning experiences for the past 18 years.
Today, the CLRC serves thousands of students every semester in six locations at Texas A&M Health campuses across the state. The main hub is a state-of-the-art facility located in Bryan, Texas, that looks, to the untrained eye, like a real hospital. Except, instead of caring for real patients, students and educators work in a specialized learning environment incorporating special technology that includes computer-programmed full-body manikins with the capacity to realistically simulate a range of physiological states and responses. Additionally, the program works with simulated participants, sometimes also called standardized patients, to allow health care trainees to work with real people who are trained to portray patients with specific medical conditions from infancy through retirement age.
In 2020, students left campus for Spring Break but never returned to campus to finish the semester. With the declaration of COVID-19 as a public health emergency on March 11, 2020, universities across the country, including Texas A&M, had to quickly pivot to distance education. For health care students who rely on hands-on experiences to prepare for rotations in clinics and hospitals—where the pandemic was felt the hardest—this work was especially critical. The faculty and staff at the CLRC quickly went to work to develop ways of giving these students the experiences they needed to be confident, knowledgeable professionals that would go on to fill shortages in the overwhelmed health care system.
The resulting Telesimulation program allowed students, educators and standardized patients to keep a safe distance while students refined their fundamental, communication and clinical skills. In-person cases were modified to work in a virtual environment and new technologies were implemented. Both standardized patients and students were trained on how to operate in the new virtual environment. As COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed and people were once again allowed to socially interact, it became clear that virtual education was a valuable tool for future health care workers. The virtual world is an ongoing part of everyday life. Telehealth appointments, for example, are on the rise even after the end of pandemic restrictions.
Because of its success, the Telesimulation program has expanded to offer its services to other Texas A&M schools as well as outside universities and professionals in multiple industries. The Fort Worth campus is dedicated solely to telesimulation and is a leading-edge education and training destination. The program’s staff work with educators who serve as the subject matter experts to create training activities that represent real-world situations and scenarios that allow learners to develop their knowledge, skills and communication abilities. Holding the simulation trainings virtually allows learners the flexibility of being off-site or in their own work environment. It also allows the program to use standardized people from any location in the United States.
“I am passionate about creating training and education experiences that reflect the real world. Texas A&M Health implements all the best practices that education research espouses. I am excited to be working at the forefront of telesimulation training because I know that through simulation, our students receive the most up-to-date training to prepare them for their careers after graduation,” said Telesimulation Manager Kathleen Homer, JD, MAT, BSC.
To learn more about the Texas A&M Health Telesimulation program, email Homer or call 817.508.6618.
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