Manikins that can breathe, talk, cry and cough are the stars of a new mobile clinical skills unit stopping in Aberdeen today (April 16) before embarking on a tour of Scotland’s remote rural areas.
The high-tech unit has been funded by NHS Education for Scotland as part of a 2-year pilot project aimed at providing health professionals in remote and rural areas with training otherwise only available in the country's main urban centres.
The outreach unit is equipped with a range of simulation equipment for safely practising skills – such as taking blood, inserting catheters and airway management – on realistic manikins and part-task trainers.
Jerry Morse, Manager of Clinical Skills at the University of Aberdeen's School of Medicine and Dentistry, said: "The unit allows teamwork to take place using interactive adult, child and baby manikins that can be programmed to have a variety of conditions. The manikins are so realistic they breathe, talk, cry, cough and their eyes even dilate when responding to medication and medical interventions.
"It means that scenarios can be run that replicate real incidents, allowing teams to practise in a safe environment and increase their confidence of handling similar incidents in the future. Clinicians and students who have already used the unit have been very enthusiastic about what it can offer."
As part of the pilot, seven remote and rural areas will be visited: Fort William, Wick, Oban, Stranraer, Orkney, Kelso and Shetland. The unit will be based in each place for two to three weeks.
Jane White, an Unscheduled Care Practice Development Nurse with NHS Highland, added: "Providing an outreach education facility means that practitioners and student practitioners don't have to travel long distances to further their medical education, saving time and money. This will not only benefit staff and service providers but will have a positive impact on patient care."
The project, managed by the Clinical Skills Managed Educational Network, is one of the key elements of the Scottish Clinical Skills Strategy, which was launched by the Minister for Health, Ms Nicola Sturgeon, on 28 September 2007.