New Center Creates Real-Life Simulations for Medical Students

APPLETON, Wis. — The new Health Simulation and Technology Center (HSTC) at Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) offers an array of advanced simulation technology to intricately replicate real-life situations and to prepare health care students and current health professionals.

Designed by Eppstein Uhen Architects of Milwaukee, the three-story, 60,500-square-foot building aims to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and offer a wide array of instruction for students. Each floor in the building was designed with its own unique purpose and function. However, it is in combining all of these functions to work together that creates a truly unique learning environment for FVTC students.

“You can combine these and create a scenario where you take these ranging entities and create some event that happens on campus,” said Bob Vajgrt, education environments studio director for EUA and project manager on the project.

The first floor was designed as a virtual hospital with eight emergency rooms with state-of-the-art human patient simulators, debriefing rooms in order for students and instructors to discuss their most recent simulation, and a mock ambulance. The dummies used in simulations have the ability to change vital signs or even expel fluids. The school also has a space to simulate an operating room.

The proximity of these simulations allows students and professionals to see the necessary and most effective way to treat patients from the ambulance to the operating room.

“You can go through that entire sequence and understand what happens out in the field — how the patient gets in the ambulance, how the patient gets to the exam room and how the patient gets into the operating room,” Vajgrt said. “I think that’s a pretty unique opportunity for students and for professionals who are already in the community.”

The building is laid out in such a way that the proximity of the simulation stations encourages this flow from ambulance to emergency room. Creating an experience in which students can see the whole story is largely beneficial to their education, Vajgrt said.

“If you don’t bring them together, you don’t understand how the patient got into the ambulance or what information was transferred to the hospital,” he said.

The second floor is geared toward students with an interest in careers as medical assistants, phlebotomists and health information technology technicians. The floor houses a six-room outpatient clinic, mock doctor’s office with reception area, functioning phlebotomy lab and two computer labs.

The third floor is dedicated to rehabilitative and home care with mock home settings, such as kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms and bedrooms, and large breakout areas to practice physical therapy and have class discussions. The home settings can also be used to replicate emergencies in home settings.

Each floor has collaborative spaces with flexible furniture, daylighting and views to the outdoors that all further encourage collaboration.

The HSTC was completed in August 2013.