Mobile Sim trains rural health professionals

The 30-foot vehicle helps train professionals with high-tech simulation equipment.

MU School of Medicine’s Mobile Sim RV is not used for leisurely family camping trips filled with too much nature and bickering siblings -- it is used to train the individuals who save lives.

Spanning 30 feet in length and adorned with high-tech medical equipment, the fundamental purpose of the vehicle is education, according to an MU news release.

“(The mission) is to provide training to health care professionals throughout the state of Missouri," MU School of Medicine spokesman Rich Gleba said. "Especially in areas that lack those simulation training resources.”

The medical personnel can complete hands-on training with equipment including simulation mannequins that complete bodily functions and "live" or "die" according to how they are treated, said Michael Muin, MU School of Medicine senior information specialist.

The mobile simulation program is highly customizable in nature. Along with the Mobile Sim RV, the program utilizes a truck and trailer depending on the needs of trainees.

“We are trying to tailor what the people need on the other end,” MU clinical simulation center director Dena Higbee said. “We’ll get it to them in what ever method they need to do their training better.”

Since the start of the program 19 months ago, around 1,300 people have had access to training with technologies that would otherwise have been unreachable due to the fiscal constraints of their relative institutions, Higbee said.

Aside from allowing community college and vocational program students to experience advanced medical training opportunities, the services of the Mobile Sim extend to a variety of professionals including law enforcement officials and first responders, an MU Medical School news release stated.

The mobility of the Mobile Sim creates a cost effective and efficient accessibility to working with top-of-the-line training equipment, Higbee said.

“Your rural areas typically can’t afford a lot of simulation equipment,” Higbee said. "It is high-tech, expensive training equipment and most people don’t have the facilities, resources, staff or consistency in order to use the equipment well. So by using the Mobile Sim and rotating the equipment you are able to reach more people for less cost.”

The Mobile Sim has provided training to communities in northwest, central, west central and southeast Missouri. For the rest of 2012, the team behind the Mobile Sim plans to lend its resources to northeast, southeast and mid-Missouri, Higbee said.

At the forefront of the mobile training facilities idea, MU presented its program to the International Meeting on Simulation and Health Care, and many institutions from Australia to South Dakota have expressed interest in the concept.

“MU has a strong background in the rural development aspect of medicine starting back with the University of Missouri Extension programs,” Higbee said. “One of the missions of the school of medicine is to provide health care for the patients of Missouri and beyond, and provide educators and physicians for that purpose.”

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