Simulation Education

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine has a remarkable on-campus resource for training medical professionals, the Center for Experimental Learning and Assessment (CELA), and our Anesthesiology Department faculty are national leaders in providing training at the facility of anesthesiology airway management, critical care, perioperative management and transesophageal echocardiogram procedures.

CELA, which opened in 2007, is a $6 million, 11,000-square-foot facility that is home to both the Program in Human Simulation and the Simulation Technologies Program. The center offers advanced simulation technologies, including computerized mannequins that can reproduce routine and critical clinical situations. One floor of the facility includes flexible space that triples as a six-bed ED, a four-bed ICU, or a couple of operating rooms all monitored by computer-controlled audio/video equipment.

In May 2009, the Vanderbilt Simulation Technologies Program, under the direction of Matthew B. Weinger, MD, was endorsed by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) as one of less than 20 centers in the nation officially approved to deliver certified educational programs. Anesthesiologists from Vanderbilt and the surrounding community can receive Continuing Medical Education (CME) simulation training that qualifies for American Board of Anesthesiology Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology (MOCA) credit. To achieve the ASA endorsement, the CELA program met strict criteria, including having strong leadership, and the necessary equipment, facilities, and personnel to provide consistent, effective training. Click here for more information on the ABA MOCA Course offered at Vanderbilt.

At Vanderbilt, multidisciplinary Critical Care skills training is lead by the faculty of the Critical Care Anesthesiology Division, with a goal of communicating proper procedures and techniques to medical students early on in their educational process, as well as communicating standardized care to physicians and medical staff across specialties and no matter what their training level, with the goal of greatly improving patient care. This training takes place, in large part, at the Center for Experiential Learning Assessment. 

  • In 2008, VUSOM started its first year of multidisciplinary clinical orientation for surgery and anesthesia interns. The goal was to ease the anxiety of the transition into internship year and to teach basic skills that all interns would ideally possess when they “hit the wards.” In July 2009, the session extended to medicine interns and incorporated institutional efforts to standardize approaches to procedures such as vascular access, airway management and patient hand- offs. In 2010, the sessions were extended to include emergency medicine interns as well as pediatric medicine Interns. Critical Care anesthesiologists train the interns during a two-day Boot Camp, which emphasizes best-practice, standardized care to improve patient safety.

    In 2005, Vanderbilt Critical Care anesthesiologists began teaching Fundamental Critical Care Support (FCCS), a two-day national course developed by the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM). These courses are increasingly popular, and because of internal demand, the course was expanded over a month so that any medical student or resident rotating through a Vanderbilt ICU can receive their FCCS certification.

    In 2007, one week of the 13-week Surgical Sciences’ curriculum was allotted to the Department of Anesthesiology, and a new course, Critical Care Skills Week, which is offered four times a year, was developed for third-year medical students. During this week, the students do pre-op assessments with standardized patients, airway management, acute pain management, basics of EKG, invasive monitoring, managing respiratory failure, myocardial infarction, shock, anesthesia monitoring, trauma/burn fluid management, electrolyte/acid-base disorders, ventilators, ethical topics in critical care and more. At the end of this week, the students are also FCCS-certified.

    Another unique training program offered at CELA is Teamwork Day, a program in which first-year medical students at Vanderbilt School of Medicine have their teamwork skills and quick thinking put to the test during a full day of demanding, simulated exercises. The simulations, as well as other educational activities occurring in other locations on campus, are part of the two-week “Foundations of the Profession” course added to the curriculum for first-year medical students in 2007. The Foundations Course prepares students for their entry into the medical profession, introducing them to core skills in a concentrated time frame. During the CELA exercises, more than 100 students interact with “standardized patients,” individuals paid to rehearse their scripts and create difficult situations for the students. Following each exercise, students are debriefed about their actions and given feedback by many of the School of Medicine’s top anesthesiology and surgical faculty who serve as facilitators during the event.