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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Improving Veterans Health Care through Clinical Simulation

June 25, 2013

Jagadeesh S. Kalavar, M.D., MEDVAMC chief of staff, listens to heart and lung sounds on the lifelike mannequin, SimMan 3G.

The new clinical simulation lab at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) was built on the idea that we can improve the quality and efficiency of Veterans health care through realistic simulations of normal and routine processes, as well as train all of our clinical staff to respond to emergency situations with more knowledge and confidence. 

MEDVAMC plans to increase the use of medical simulation training for clinicians so they can learn how to conduct complex procedures in a setting that imitates real-life situations without putting patients at risk.

This new simulation lab, affectionately renamed the "STAR" lab, acronym for Simulation, Training, Assessment, and Resource, offers state-of-the-art equipment and many more opportunities for simulation-based training and education research.

The STAR lab is equipped with a lifelike mannequin or "SimMan® 3G", known to the staff as Simon Sims or Samantha Sims, and he is no dummy.


Rashanda Banks, MEDVAMC clinical simulation lab instructor, demonstrates how to insert a nasal cannula device into the nose of the lifelike mannequin, SimMan 3G to deliver supplemental oxygen.

SimMan® 3G is a human patient simulator that exhibits human physiologic functions such as blood pressure readings, reactive pupils, working tear ducts and heart and lung sounds. MEDVAMC will use this technology to provide all types of realistic training opportunities such as starting an IV, obtaining a blood sample, inserting a bladder catheter, giving medications, treating wounds and performing procedures in response to the specific case they are evaluating and treating.

In addition to SimMan®3G, the STAR lab will also provide MammaCare® Clinical Breast Exam Simulators. Since performing a breast examination is a complex skill, the simulator will allow providers to perfect their techniques and become more comfortable and confident about performing breast exams, thus improving the care for our women Veterans.

The STAR lab also offers Hearing Distressing Voices simulation training to educate mental health providers on empathizing with patients of psychiatric disabilities in order to improve the mental health of Veterans.

"MEDVAMC clinical staff is very fortunate to have the STAR Lab", said Laurie Mitchell,  Education Service Line Executive. "The dedication of space and staff demonstrates  the senior leadership commitment to ensuring quality patient care. The STAR Lab team look forward to assisting the clinical staff with their learning needs."