Aug 152014
 

If you walk by the Department of Physician Assistant Studies lab in the College of Allied Health Sciences, you may notice someone lying alone on a hospital bed. Don’t be alarmed, our students haven’t abandoned an ailing patient, that’s just the new patient simulator waiting for the next round of students to practice medical procedures and diagnoses skills with him.

(L-R) PA faculty members Kim Stokes, Natalie Smith, Julie Daniel-Yount, and Jane Trapp work on the patient simulator during the faculty training session.

(L-R) PA faculty members Kim Stokes, Natalie Smith, Julie Daniel-Yount, and Jane Trapp work on the patient simulator during the faculty training session.

This newest simulation tool effectively prepares PA students for their field by allowing them to act out patient scenarios in a controlled environment. The Laerdal SimMan Essentials patient simulator, which has been named “Sammy” by the the PA department, can present several different types of symptoms including dilated pupils, increased heart rate, strange lung sounds, and many other diagnosable issues. With pulse points in five different locations, eyes that blink, and several other life-like features, “Sammy” is as “real” as a patient can be without actually being alive.

“Simulation is a wonderful way for students to practice in a virtual environment where mistakes can be made and learned from without affecting real patients,” said Dr. Alan Gindoff, chair of the Department.

With a panel in the arm of the SimMan, students can place IVs and administer drugs for treatment.

With a panel in the arm of the SimMan, students can place IVs and administer drugs for treatment.

Once a faculty member has used the wireless, touch-screen monitor to give the simulator a certain ailment, PA students then actually perform a physical examination, diagnose the problem and carry-out a treatment plan. With this method of learning, PA students can learn skills hands-on such as how to intubate, treat a pneumothorax (collapsed lung), perform an intraosseous infusion into the bone marrow of the simulator’s knee and chest, and administer drugs intravenously.

The patient simulator monitor tracks the heart rate, oxygen stats and blood pressure of the SimMan, similar to that of a hospital monitor. With this advanced technology, PA students are able to actually carry out diagnoses and treatments with a “patient” that reacts to their courses of action versus simply planning and discussing them . Also with the monitor, faculty is able to change and customize the SimMan’s condition at the touch of a button during the treatment, such as increasing his heart-rate, decreasing his oxygen levels or distending his abdomen.

With interchangeable and customizable parts, the SimMan can allow for several different types of scenarios that help prepare PA students for obstacles in the medical field, whether that is a swollen tongue making intubation difficult or a sudden need for CPR.

“Through simulation, student can apply medical management in near real-life scenarios so they may develop complex skill sets before they actually perform them on human beings,” said Gindoff, “This is unlike a multiple choice test where the answers are in front of you, waiting to be chosen from a list. This is like real-life where you have to use your knowledge to diagnose a variety of symptoms and what those symptoms may mean when presented all together.”

The touch-screen monitor displays active medical conditions and allows faculty to control the patient simulator's symptoms and reactions to treatment.

The touch-screen monitor displays active medical conditions and allows faculty to control the patient simulator’s symptoms and reactions to treatment.

Through patient simulators, the Department of Physician Assistant studies is effectively preparing students for the medical field. “Sammy” may be just a patient simulator, but through his life-like symptoms and various diagnoses, he is training future PAs for real life patients.

Share/Bookmark
Oct 142013
 

From Oct. 6 to Oct. 12, students in the East Carolina University Physician Assistant Studies program celebrated National Physician Assistant Week by honoring their professors and giving back to their community.

PA

The ECU Physician Assistant Studies program class of 2015. (photo by Michelle Messer Photography)

Events included a faculty appreciation ice cream social Thursday afternoon, held in the East Carolina University Heart Center. PA students recognized the program’s faculty for their dedication to preparing the students for careers as physician assistants.

The students continued their celebration of PA week by decorating pumpkins with the children at The Little Willie Center. The center, a facility located on Fifth Street that provides after school tutoring and mentoring services hosted the students Friday afternoon.

“Being a PA student is an awesome yet challenging experience,” said Caitlyn Fulp, a member of the class of 2015, “It can be difficult to look past the quizzes, exams, assignments, and labs that pile on top of balancing family, friends, gym, chores, and grocery shopping. Spending time with the kids at the after school program helped me do just that! Laughing, painting pumpkins, and coloring pictures of Minnie Mouse were just what I needed to recharge and get some perspective. I am excited to participate in more opportunities like this in the future.”

The East Carolina University Physician Assistant Studies program, which graduated its first class in 1999, currently has 102 enrolled students.  The program operates on a 27 month curriculum and is one of only seven PA programs in North Carolina. In 2003, the program transitioned to a master-level program with all graduates since 2005 earning Master of Science degrees in PA studies.

To learn more about the Physician Assistant Studies program at ECU visit http://www.ecu.edu/pa/.