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Simulation is the way to go in training medics

OPINION
By Michael Kiptoo | September 26th 2021

Tiaty Mp William Kamket when he spearheaded the opening of the first medical training college in his constituency. [Ivyonne Chepkwony,Standard]

The future of clinical medicine lies in simulation-based training. Simulation in education and training has been used for centuries to teach skills of various sorts.

Simulation is a lifelike model of a process or system. It is an activity that has ability to replicate clinical practice using scenarios, manikins, and computer-based critical thinking simulations.

While direct contact is critically needed so as to produce the best health professionals for the community, today’s patient expects to be treated and operated on by highly trained health professional. This dilemma is solved through simulation based training, which provides realistic health training within a context of safe, error tolerant environment.

Several factors have led to the increased use of virtual simulations in health training across the world. Difficulties associated with securing clinical placement sites have become prevalent.

The need for patient safety is another key consideration. Driven by the noble concern for patient safety, many health facilities are reducing the number of students allowed access to patient units at any given time.

This leaves them with one option, which is the use of virtual simulation labs. Simulation labs also encourage students to practice a skill to perfection without putting the lives of patients at risk.

Virtual simulations have been proven effective in health training. Research has demonstrated that simulations are just as effective as traditional clinical experiences in health training, including nursing and clinical medicine.

Studies also indicate that virtual simulations with students are effective in terms of learning outcomes.

Though simulation labs have proven to be effective in preparing medical students such as in nursing and clinical medicine for the transition to actual patient care, many African countries are not able to use them because of the cost associated with them.

Like with any innovation, the use of simulations requires specialized training, which may not always be readily available even to training institutions. If we want to train enough health personnel, use of simulation is the way to go. This is why the government needs to not only invest in setting up of simulation labs but also training of personnel to manage them.

The writer is a professor of immunology and chief executive officer, Kenya Medical Training College

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