Published September 21, 2011
The Behling Simulation Center—a state-of-the art facility where University at Buffalo health sciences students practice medical procedures on lifelike patient mannequins—held its grand opening Sept. 20.
The center is the first in the country where students from across all health sciences disciplines work together.
It is designed to produce health sciences graduates who are best prepared for the contemporary health care environment and for enhancing health care in Western New York.
“The Behling Center is breaking down the traditional educational silos between medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health and dentistry,” says Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
“Just as health care professionals work as a team in the field, our students in all five of the health sciences schools will now be learning together as a team as well.”
Within the first year of its official opening, more than 1,000 UB students are expected to train at the center. They will practice a range of medical procedures from inserting catheters and delivering babies to resuscitating injured patients.
“Simulation training is the future of resident and fellow clinical training in areas where experience is required before attempting the technique on real patients,” says Mark J. Lema, MD, PhD, professor and chair of anesthesiology.
Jeffrey W. Myers, DO, the center's director and an academic scholar in the Department of Emergency Medicine, says the center allows students to practice techniques until they perfect them.
“Our students get over the learning curve so that the brain, the eyes and the hands are all working together.”
So far, the simulated patients allow students to respond to 55 scenarios ranging from traumatic injury and pediatric septic shock to kidney disease and teen pregnancy.
“The simulations put the students right into a realistic situation where they have to think on their feet,” Myers says.
The center is named for Ralph Behling, MD ’43, who says that the ability to affect generations of health sciences students motivated him to develop the center.
“I think I’m contributing to education as a whole. This training will go on forever.”
Already, 500 students have trained in the center, which was operating in pilot mode until the grand opening.
Students work in four-hour time blocks, either participating in or viewing four complete simulated scenarios. After the scenarios, they review each performance on videotape, discussing what went well and where they need to improve.
As faculty and administrators at UB’s five health sciences schools develop curricula for the center, they are finding new synergies among them.
“The faculty and deans who are working on the curriculum are learning from each other and about each others’ disciplines,” says Myers. “The center is the visible entity that is becoming a driving force in bringing all of the professions together.”