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KARACHI: Students and professionals working in the medical field would now have an opportunity to hone their skills in mock operating rooms and on patient manikins that could be programmed according to a specific medical condition.

This milestone in the medical field has recently been achieved with the establishment of the Centre for Innovation in Medical Education (CIME) at the Aga Khan University (AKU).

The centre currently being utilised by the AKU would be available to the wider health service community in the public and private sectors in Pakistan and in the region.

Although the centre has been operational for some time, it was officially inaugurated on Friday with a media visit during which journalists were taken to different sections of the facility and briefed about its operation.

Built at a cost of $15 million, the donor-funded centre provides ample facilities to medical, nursing and allied health students as well as professionals to learn in a risk-free environment with the help of high-quality learning tools.

Of these, one of the most important ones are the virtual wards with the high-tech manikins that simulate symptoms, diseases and conditions that healthcare students see in a real care setting and are meant to give students hands-on experience of a range of clinical practices.

The dummies can be programmed to present different medical conditions from cardiac arrest to pneumonia, medical distress of a child that requires resuscitation or a woman in labour. A trainee can even sense patient’s pain while performing a procedure that he could repeat on the dummy till he reaches perfection.

Every simulation room is combined with spaces where experts could evaluate performance of their students while they independently perform on patient manikins and later hold a discussion with them.

“The centre will help minimise chances of medical error, improve patient safety and raise the quality of healthcare,” said Dr Jacqueline M. Dias, assistant professor and director at the AKU School of Nursing and Midwifery. Dr Dias also serves as the interim CIME director.

Along with the facility to learn surgical procedures through computer-based three-dimensional programmes, the centre also offers e-health clinics, e-learning and teaching spaces.

“It’s an investment in academic excellence. Thirty years ago, when I was in a medical college, my training was exclusively based on on-job exposure. We rarely received feedback on how we responded to a situation. But, this has changed now,” said dean of AKU medical college Dr Farhat Abbas.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2015