Grant boosts simulations for GVSU health students

September 27, 2010
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Grand Valley State University health professions students will see new hardware and software to help them practice in simulated medical settings before taking on real patients.

The university earlier this month received a $300,000 grant from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal stimulus bill of 2009 meant to pull the nation out of the recession.

The HHS distributed a total of $130.8 million, including $88.7 million ARRA funding. The GVSU grant was one of 208 distributed to higher educational institutions across the nation from a $50.5 million pool aimed at improving equipment used for training health professionals.

Wallace Boeve, program director of physician assistant studies, said GVSU intends to use the money for a computer system to be used in patient simulation exercises.

The university will add about $200,000 to the grant to purchase the Arcadia Suite from Education Management Solutions of Pennsylvania. The company’s software is used to manage simulations, record and score student performance. The audio-visual component is used in debriefing sessions.

“Grand Valley’s health professions programs utilize a lot of simulation activities,” Boeve said. “Simulations range from model patient experiences to high fidelity computer based models that the students interact with before they go out and see actual patients.”

The simulation activities promote patient safety as well, Boeve said, a focus in health care since a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine about the danger of medical errors.

The package includes student modules for pre- and post-simulation use, and the recorded sessions can be reviewed via a Web connection. It also has lifelike electronic health records for student practice. There also is a training component for the people hired by GVSU to serve as model patients at the simulation center in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences in Grand Rapids.

“Overall it’s more robust in developing the analytical skills of the students,” Boeve said.

The system could be in place by early next year, he said.  As many as 300 students in programs for physician assistant, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, radiological and imaging sciences are expcted to utilize the new equipment, he said.

Michigan received a total of $1.9 million in HHS awards aimed at strengthening and expanding the health professions workforce.

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