Cutting-Edge Medical Meeting Spaces

Many of today's medical training facilities offer state-of-the-art tools such as mannequins that "bleed," simulation rooms that make participants feel like they're under enemy fire in Iraq, and enhanced video capabilities that allow facilitators to capture and analyze every movement a test subject (flesh and blood or otherwise) makes.

These new and newly renovated centers have also invested in meeting spaces, breakout areas and debriefing rooms that come equipped with the latest in technology, from 200-seat auditoriums with built-in audience-response systems to videoconferencing programs capable of streaming high-definition content across the country in real time.

The following is a selection of notable spaces that take the art and science of medical education and its associated meetings literally to new dimensions.

The Center for Advanced Medical Learning and SimulationTampa, Fla.

The $38 million, 90,000-square-foot Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation opened last February with 30,000 square feet of dedicated meeting space, including a 200-seat auditorium with high-speed Internet, audience-response systems and satellite videoconferencing capabilities. The facility also offers its own catering and meeting planning services and is just steps away from the Tampa Bay Convention Center.

Other on-site meeting space includes a 10-seat conference room with Cisco TelePresence and a 38-seat executive board room with 70-inch monitors, "smart podium" technology for easy PC and Mac connectivity, and "electric privacy glass" that can go from clear to opaque with the flip of a switch.
For medical training, the center features 35 surgical-skills stations, a robotics suite, and a state-of-the-art hybrid catheterization and operating suite.

The three-story center has "the ability for any surgical procedure to be replicated exactly the way it needs to be," says Paul Ayres, director of sales, marketing and business development for the facility. For example, the trauma operating room takes surgical simulations to an intense new level. While attendees are undergoing an exercise, instructors can manipulate the environment in the room by controlling the temperature, adding sound effects and even changing a projection on the wall from a tranquil beach setting to a desert combat zone. "The effects are designed to put stress on the team so we can give them the experience of being at war," says Ayres. "When they're out in the field, it's not going to be like a typical hospital, and we want them to feel that here."

J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Simulation CenterMayo Clinic
Jacksonville, Fla.

An offshoot of the celebrated facility in Rochester, Minn., the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., will open a new center early this year that will feature several simulation environments, including a fully equipped operating room and virtual reality stations for students to practice tasks such as IV line and stint placements. During procedures, others can tune in and catch the presentation via live video streams.

"In most training areas we have at least two cameras recording the action, and in the mock emergency room there are five," notes Gene Richie, clinical director. "This allows us to pick up video from multiple angles at any point in time, which lets attendees and facilitators view a continuum of the scenario as it's happening."

The videos also can be viewed in one of the clinic's two high-tech debriefing rooms. The first features a 70-inch SmartBoard that allows groups to play footage, pause it and draw right on the surface like a sports broadcaster, circling concerns or highlighting alternative solutions. The space also features informal, collaboration-friendly seating and tablet computers on every chair. The walls are covered in back-painted glass, so participants can write and erase directly on the surface during brainstorming sessions.

For larger groups, the clinic's eighth-floor Learning Center has panoramic views of Florida's Intercoastal Waterway. Here, a flick of a switch lowers the curtains, dims the lights and powers up the three articulating 55-inch LED TVs or a projector with a 108-inch screen. Video feeds can be streamed from any of the training areas, so attendees can watch colleagues go through the training as it happens. "Being able to watch their peers makes participants less stressed because they are able to see what to expect before they have to do it," notes Richie.

The Cleary Kumm Simulation and Training Lab
Gundersen Lutheran
La Crosse, Wis.

> The mock operating room at the Cleary Kumm Simulation and Training Lab is equipped just like the real thing.In April 2012, the Gundersen Lutheran health-care organization opened its new $1.5 million training center in what was a late-19th-century brewery. Two and a half hours from Madison, Wis., and five hours from Chicago, the Cleary Kumm Simulation and Training Lab includes a mock operating room, a simulation lab and a 200-seat auditorium equipped with A/V technology for recording speakers and live-streaming videos.

The facility has forged strategic partnerships with medical equipment and technology companies like Germany-based Karl Stortz Endoskope, which supplied its OR1 software that allows facilitators to provide live video streaming for procedures involving penetration into an organ or body cavity.

The Center for Simulation and ResearchCincinnati Children's Hospital

Here at Cincinnati's Center for Simulation and Research, the future is now, thanks to training tools such as a unique audiovisual capturing system from B-Line Medical known as SimBridge, by which facilitators watching a video feed of a simulated procedure can annotate the footage by writing on-screen as it happens, or instantly return to a flagged point in the video during a debriefing session, says Tom LeMaster, program director at the center.

The 13,000-square-foot center, which opened in 2001, was expanded in 2007 and again in 2012, and now has three operating-room simulation suites as well as 10 patient simulators -- mannequins that bleed, sweat and blink as they undergo the rigors of a medical procedure either in a dedicated Sim Control Room or on a sim screen, which a trainee can control via tablet.  

The Anatomy Learning CenterUniversity of California, San Francisco
The Anatomy Learning Center offers state-of-the-art technology without eschewing old standbys like a human skeleton.This $7.5 million facility, which opened last August on the 13th floor of UCSF's Parnassus campus, has gone mobile. The center's main 6,000-square-foot classroom space comes stocked with some 100 iPads that interface with the in-house audiovisual equipment, including six 72-inch HD video monitors. During exercises, instructors or learners can wirelessly push content from their tablets directly to the monitors.

In addition, classrooms have done away with fixed ceiling cameras in favor of wireless cameras attached to mobile carts, so instructors can get a better angle on the complex architecture of the human body. The video feed, which can be streamed to other locations around campus and to various conference centers around the nation, is supported by more than 25 wireless routers to ensure the bandwidth is robust enough for smooth, high-definition results.

The center, which is expected to receive LEED Silver certification and offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge through wall-to-wall windows, can support training for a variety of medical professions in tandem with the UCSF School of Medicine, including dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmaceuticals.  

For debriefing or breakout purposes, planners can use a space that accommodates up to 24 people and comes equipped with 72-inch, high-definition video monitors and two videoconferencing cameras.   

Planning for Learning

At the STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation, doctors-to-be get personal with a high-tech mannequin.Simulation exercises in medical education are inherently natural team builders, but instructors at Brigham and Women's Hospital's STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation in Boston like to add a competitive component for extra incentive. Groups are divided into two teams and work simultaneously in identical simulation rooms on the same procedure. Though the groups cannot see each other, their noncompeting colleagues can see everything and vote on which team will advance to the next round.

It's a perfect example of hands-on learning, often considered the most effective method. "The more active and engaged the learner is, the more learning is happening," says Chandler Mayfield, director of technology-enhanced learning at the University of California, San Francisco. "Attendees at a conference can hear about a procedure, but when you participate in it, in becomes much more real."

For medical planners, however, that sense of realism comes with added responsibility. "We've had learners break into tears and panic," says Gene Richie of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. "Planning exercises like this takes a different tack." The following are some ways planners prepare their groups for rigorous medical training.

The pre-brief. This is the time to set the stage and create a nonthreatening atmosphere for participants.

"We tell them what the training's going to be about and that if they make a mistake it's not the end of the world, as this is not an actual clinical environment," says Richie. "There's always a bit of tension when you know you're going to be recorded on video and colleagues might be watching, or there's someone viewing from behind a glass wall. So this preps them to feel comfortable."

The didactic. Before diving into an exercise, planners or facilitators might provide instruction or model what attendees can expect. "The first part of our interactive sessions is a lecture," notes Sue McSorley, director of convention and meetings services for the Rosemont, Ill.-based American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "We show them exactly what they're going to do and what it's going to look like."

Group work. Before letting attendees go solo, medical planners might ease them into the process by having them go through the procedure divided into groups, "so they can see what's going to happen, talk about it and work through it as a team," says Mayfield.

Tom LeMaster of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital adds, "Being broken into small working groups makes it easier for participants to engage and retain what's happening."

The debrief. Once the simulation training is over, holding a debriefing session is paramount, says LeMaster. "This is the part where learners are self-exploring. Facilitators can lead the discussion by asking them open-ended questions about their experience, what went well and what they would do differently."

During this session attendees can discuss and compare takeaways and develop action plans for their future development. It's also a time for learners to catch their breath and regain equilibrium, as the exercise, even though a simulation, can be intense.

"The idea is to create a safe place where we can offer the students direct feedback from peers or the facilitator," says Emily Hinchey, the
STRATUS Center's director of strategic planning and business development.
With so much to debrief about, such sessions at the Mayo Clinic can run up to three times as long as the actual simulation exercise, according to Richie.

Round two. Mistakes are meant to be made during simulation training, but this can wear on participants expecting to ace their exercise in one go. To help attendees build back their confidence, facilitators at STRATUS set them up with a second case that "they will nail or where they can use skills from the first exercise," says Hinchey. -- M.C.L.