A state-of-the-art new Simulation and Clinical Skills Unit has been opened at the Stellenbosch University’s Tygerberg Campus in Cape Town. The unit boasts among others hi-tech medical models as well as a simulated hospital ward and consultation rooms.

The university says the ultramodern facility is aimed at supporting and training world-class healthcare practitioners.  A clinical setting depicting a possible life and death situation.

Medical students will learn critical skills which will ultimately save lives at the facility.

“What we were simulating is a patient that went into cardiac arrest so, in other words, they had a heart attack, as the laypeople talk about it and the students managed that and that’s a skill that you obviously cannot go and practice in the clinical area because they don’t always have heart attacks. But should it happen, the students need to know exactly what to do and how to manage it,” says Simulation Designer and Clinical Educator Sister Bronwen Espen

The simulation and clinical skills unit allow for students to hone their skills in a safe environment. Final year medical student, Azhar Nadkar, says the lab prepares students like him for face-to-face patient care by allowing them to practice as much as they would like to, with expert assistance.

“As we progress into the further years, the more complex procedures such as resuscitation, cardioversion, lumbar punctures, are all types of skills that we are taught in the skills lab so that when we are entering the clinical platform, we can rest assured that the patients that we will find ourselves taking care of will receive the best possible opportunity of holistic patient-centered care.”

This venue is part of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences’ existing Clinical Skills Lab. According to the unit’s head, it allows for realistic simulations of medical emergencies and circumstances using high-tech equipment and models and helps develop not just clinical, but also communication skills among healthcare students.

“This skills lab is part of the curriculum. It gives students the opportunity to come right from their junior years up until the senior years and we stagger the skills in terms of difficulty so that by the time they graduate they will be able to have confidence in doing some of the skills even if they didn’t do it on a real patient, they will still have had the opportunity to have practiced that on a mannequin,” says Head of Simulation and Clinical Skills Unit, D. Elize Archer.

From drawing blood to resuscitation, and CPR the ultimate goal is equipping students with a certain level of competency in order to ensure patient safety.