Fall 2022

Practice makes perfect

Aspiring health care providers hone their craft through real-world clinical simulations

The University of Minnesota’s M Simulation facility is equal parts state-of-the-art hospital and eye-popping stage show.

From 18 outpatient clinic rooms and a fully functional surgical suite to a wig-filled wardrobe and a room piled high with mannequins and lifelike body parts, the expansive two-floor space is a dazzling mixture of hyper-realistic make-believe and next-generation medical education.

M Simulation is located on the U’s Twin Cities campus in the Health Sciences Education Center, which opened in 2020. The department uses simulation-based education to support health sciences students in clinical skills practice, from the basic (tying a surgical suture) to the urgent (responding to an emergency hospital code) to the devastating (telling a patient about a grim diagnosis).

Department team members orchestrate technical and human simulation. Technical training includes suturing, placing a central line, and airway management. Human simulation entails coaching “standardized patients,” who role-play with learners as they practice communication, medical interviewing, and physical exam skills.

“M Simulation is a bridge,” says executive director Lou Clark, Ph.D., M.F.A., “between what students learn in the classroom and what they’ll experience in clinical environments.”