May 18, 2012
Respiratory therapists will need to be trained and tested on new skills in order to efficiently and competently deliver respiratory therapy modalities and treatments. Simulation programs provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate skills and knowledge without inflicting harm on a live patient.
Simulation programs, either computer-based or mannequin-based, serve as an adjunct to the multifaceted educational techniques utilized today in health education. Education is designed so that students learn medical facts, appropriately utilize the facts in patient care, perform procedures, recognize the effect interventions have on patient outcome, and participate in continuing education to remain current in their professions. Simulation programs expose clinicians to patient scenarios prior to putting their knowledge to work at the patient's bedside and provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate skills and knowledge without inflicting harm on a live patient.
In the field of respiratory therapy, utilization of simulation programs is an advantageous educational technique that should be utilized to a greater extent in the future. The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) recommends the use of simulation training for continuing education to increase competency among current practitioners, stating that this training method also will be important in the future to educate students both didactically and clinically. The AARC survey of educators and managers found the utilization of simulation to be an invaluable method to train new respiratory therapists entering the specialty area of neonatal and pediatric respiratory critical care.
Today, the initial exposure to simulation training programs may come in the form of certification training, such as with the American Heart Association's program, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), completed electronically as eACLS. Following completion of the computer-based simulation patient scenarios, students then complete ACLS skills demonstrations on a simulation mannequin.
Training with simulators and task trainers is much improved from the days of using oranges to practice arterial sticks for blood gases. Such training programs can aid the respiratory therapist in correcting deficiencies in performing procedures such as endotracheal intubations and in areas such as drug calculations and algorithm steps. Simulation patients can portray a variety of "respiratory" patients, such as those with asthma or acute respiratory distress and those undergoing bronchoscopy.