Simulation training prepares medical students for real thing

HEALTH students in the Warrnambool region are to be given important training with the arrival of education simulation trainer Chris Healey. 

Mr Healey is one of 14 simulation educators who have started in south-west Victoria and regional South Australia, tasked with rolling out a new simulation-based training program that will focus on mental health. 

The program, developed by the Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health, gives students the opportunity to learn from life-like training scenarios. 

Mr Healey, a registered nurse and mental health practitioner for 33 years, said that mental health training would be invaluable for students. 

“It doesn’t matter where people end up professionally. In the end you’re going to encounter people with mental health issues,” he said. 

“One in five people have mental health issues. Developing skills and knowledge of how to talk and interact appropriately with people with mental health issues is so important.” In 2014, 24 medical students will participate in seven workshops during their mental health rotation and 48 nursing students will also participate as part of their training. 

“At the moment the program predominantly involves using simulated patients (actors) to role play different scenarios to give training doctors and nurses the ability to practice skills in a simulated environment,” Mr Healey said. 

Clinical skills lecturer at the Deakin School of Medicine, Ashley Zanker, said students were enjoying the simulation training so far. 

“They’re enjoying the opportunity to practice in a safe environment and the ability to stop and ask questions in an environment where they don’t feel threatened,” Mr Zanker said. 

“Chris Healey and the entire program is an asset to the students. It’ll make them feel much more comfortable when they practice in real situations.”

Other simulation educators recently appointed include Catherine Fenton in Hamilton and Lauren Newman in Portland.

GGT UDRH, a partnership between Flinders and Deakin universities and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, is collaborating with UniSA UDRH and Country Health South Australia Local Health Network (CHSA LHN) to provide the simulation-based training and education workshops.

The project is an extension of the successful Distributed Simulation training model funded by Health Workforce Australia (HWA) implemented in the GGT UDRH region of south-east South Australia and south-west Victoria.

The project has received an additional $805,053 from HWA to expand simulation training for professional entry students in medicine, nursing and allied health.

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