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Fake patients prepare medical students

August 17, 2009 9:37:14 AM PDT
A Johns Hopkins study shows medical students don't receive enough training during the first two years of school to prepare them for clinical rotations in their third and fourth years. Now, simulators are preparing medical students for the future.The mechanical patients give medical students a way to practice life-saving procedures before doing the real thing.

"The more they practice it on the mannequins, the more they feel comfortable when they have to do it on a real person," said Debra Danforth from Florida State University's College of Medicine.

Students learn how to listen to the heart and identify abnormal beats, and they also perfect their bedside manners.

From the next room, an actor responds to the student.

"We can practice lots of procedures that are sometimes scary and daunting. You know you won't hurt the mannequin, whereas you could really hurt a patient," said medical student Ashley Newell.

The mannequins can be programmed to test the student's skills unexpectedly.

The wrong move could mean disaster, but the right move means a life saved for the students. It's an invaluable tool.

"It's not even just the fear of not knowing what to do. It's also the fear of well how do I get all the instruments together, and how do I look professional in front of the patients," said medical student Juline Machado.

The simulators are preparing the doctors of tomorrow for whatever comes their way.

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