New £1.5 million healthcare simulation facilities opened at Aston University

New £1.5 million healthcare simulation facilities have officially opened at Aston Medical School and in the School of Optometry at Aston University.

The state-of-the-art facilities were formally opened by Paulette Hamilton, member of parliament for Birmingham Erdington, on Friday 2 December at a ribbon cutting ceremony that was attended by Aston University Vice-Chancellor Professor Aleks Subic as well as other members of the University executive and staff from the College of Health and Life Sciences.

Commenting on the new facilities Paulette Hamilton MP said: "It's been brilliant to visit and officially open the new healthcare simulation facilities at Aston University.

"I know from my time as a nurse how important it is to have access to good training and the latest equipment. These fantastic facilities will give students the best possible learning experience as they prepare to enter their profession, providing healthcare in Birmingham and beyond."

Hosted by Professor Anthony Hilton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the College of Health and Life Sciences, guests were invited to take a tour of the new facilities including a clinical skills simulation room which allows students to practice in emergency settings and an ocular simulation unit facility, the only one in Europe.

Professor Hilton said: "We are delighted these new facilities have opened in time for the start of the new term and that students can benefit from practicing their clinical skills in a variety of scenarios.

"The acute care simulation room will allow for simulated emergency resuscitation scenarios that are very difficult to teach in real life situations, such as heart attacks, acute breathlessness and severe allergic reaction and will be of great value in training students of medicine, pharmacy and optometry."

The healthcare simulation facilities will be used by students studying medicine, pharmacy and optometry, where they will be able to practice in emergency settings using high quality manikins where they will simulate treating patients for acute conditions such as a heart attack or learning how to intubate a patient onto a ventilator.

Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor, Aston University said:

"The launch of the Aston University healthcare simulation facilities marks an important milestone in the development of our digital health precinct within the Birmingham Knowledge Quarter. By establishing world-class medical imaging, advanced visualization, and digital diagnostics capabilities we are in fact bringing Industry 4.0 to healthcare.

"Our students from the Aston Medical School and School of Optometry in particular, will benefit immensely from this development as they will be able to detect a wide range of clinical conditions and diseases and explore different interventions and scenarios, safely within a simulated environment."

The high-fidelity acute care simulation room will also be equipped with recording facilities, a debrief room and control room. The funding has allowed for the purchase of other training equipment such as a hospital-grade bed and single-task trainer simulation equipment. For example, male and female catheterization models, pelvic and rectal trainers, venepuncture arms, breast trainers and abdominal trainers.

The facilities were part funded by the Office for Students which awarded the University £806,226 to set up the 'high fidelity' simulation A&E room with further expenditure by Aston University on the ocular simulation unit.

The ocular simulation facility is unique in Europe. It allows students to refine their skills in examining the health of the front and back of the eyes and to experience a wide range of eye diseases. One of the simulators allows students to utilize their smartphones to practice at home. They can gain direct feedback and be assessed by the simulators, allowing more flexible, diverse and intensive learning than can be achieved with clinical practice placements.

The College of Health and Life Sciences is thrilled with this investment. The enhanced facilities will help to support many of our healthcare students, including those now applying for our new nursing degree. It will also support us with the introduction of the new pharmacy and optometry education standards, providing a step change in our ability to simulate a wide range of clinical scenarios."

Professor Liz Moores, Deputy Dean, College of Health and Life Sciences

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