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General Hospital Live

A chaplain is requested to provide spiritual care to family members gathered at the bedside to witness the death of a loved one when life support is removed.  Later, that same chaplain is called to offer pastoral care to a patient who received devastating news which leaves them confused and distraught.  These aren't 'real' scenarios, although either instance could really happen in the day of the life of a Chaplain intern in CPE.  In each instance, the patient isn't real, nor are the family members; they are actors (one who was actually still pink skinned and breathing while playing dead).  

These are simulations of real-life medical scenarios as part of Washington Hospital Center's innovative Clinical Simulation Center (CSC). This CPE experience comes complete with this unique opportunity called "Sim Lab."  WHC is one of the few hospitals in the nation to offer this hands-on technology.  The CSC provides advanced team training and clinical skills to a broad range of our professionals in a controlled, risk-free environment.  Chaplains in training, representing the Spiritual Care Department of a major metropolitan city trauma center, can grow from this as much as any doctor, nurse, technician, orderly, etc.

Courtesy of the WHC website:
"The state-of-the-art CSC offers various simulation equipment in a multitude of areas ranging from general surgery to gynecology services. Rooms are designed to mirror the appearance of a patient's hospital room, thereby making the experience that much more life-like and separate areas feature specialized task-training equipment for clinicians to practice and refine their clinical skills in many invasive procedures."

"The adaptability of the CSC is what makes it such a success. Learners may utilize many of the resources available, including on-line learning modules on the Simulation and Training Environment Laboratory (SiTEL) Learning Management System, and hands-on simulated emergency sessions with trained actors standing in as patients."

"While the scenario is created, the students are able to frame what their next step would be in context of their past experiences and past knowledge. This enables them to learn at their own pace, in their own way."

"At the end of each simulated session, the instructors provide feedback on what went well and what can be improved upon during a debriefing session. All events are recorded and played back for review. Generally, students leave feeling much more confident and better prepared to handle their next real emergency."

The first Sim Lab was a little awkward when a momentary thought entered my pea-brain as I noticed the one-way observation mirror: I imagined it being my audition for the soap opera, "General Hospital."  In my second simulation, the RN from the first episode was now the young married mother of two diagnosed with breast cancer.  I met her as Mary; now she was "Sara Reed."  The momentary recognition caught me off-guard before I got in the game.

Feedback from the simulations included: Bringing a calming influence into a hard situation, maintaining good eye contact and interaction with a keen use of silence, employing appropriate physical touch while focusing on either patient and/or family, listening intently and using verbal and non-verbal cues effectively, and offering solid and short prayers. There were also instances where I need to remember how big I am and how tall I am when at the bedside, and to check the pain and comfort of the patient (when not dying).

I don't imagine I have much of a network TV career ahead of me, but this chaplaincy mantle sits well about my head and shoulders, with God as my helper.  Amen.