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Amy Seybert, Pharmacy, has been awarded a 2008 Innovation in Education grant to develop a simulation course, Acute Care Pharmacotherapy. This course uses Winter Institute for Simulation in Education and Research (WISER) simulations to teach effective use of medicines to mitigate disease and maximize patient health in an acute care setting. The high fidelity human patient simulators (SimMan)are programmed with vital physiological signs and oral responses to anticipated questions. Seybert explains, "For example, a simulated patient in acute myocardial infarction might complain of tremendous pain. The student assesses the situation, recommends morphine or other appropriate medication therapy, determines the dosage, and administers the drug. The 'patient' then responds to the drug. Too much morphine can cause the 'patient' to breathe abnormally. Furthermore, if the 'patient' is allergic to a particular drug, the 'patient' might experience severe reactions and possibly even die."
For this project, Simulation Based Learning and Online Learning to Enhance Problem-solving Skills in Acute Pharmacotherapy, Seybert and her team will develop short lectures and learning scenarios with the WISER technology. She notes that "The University of Pittsburgh is the first pharmacy school in the country to have human simulators integrated into the curriculum. Since 2000, the simulator technology has become increasingly more prevalent in our courses." Seybert's development team consists of Sandra Kane-Gill, Pharmacy and Therapeutics, Regis Vollmer, Pharmaceutical Science, and WISER Simulation Specialist Larry Kobulinsky.
For part of the course, School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy students collaborate on team assignments involving high blood pressure scenarios. Students view short video presentations by cardiology and critical care experts, and then complete online assessments. After the students have demonstrated competence through these online assessments, the adaptive release feature in Blackboard provides information so the student can practice real-world simulations. Students receive feedback through the objective debriefing software provided by SimMan. Using the human simulators, students then complete a physical exam, question the patient, diagnose major issues, and develop a treatment plan. To evaluate student learning, Seybert has integrated into the project objective, structured pre-, post1-, and post2-clinical exams which approximate real-world conditions. Finally, Seybert has applied for additional external funding to further promote the use of human simulators at the University.