Building the future of education with a new centre focused on simulation

Interview with Dr. Serge Doucet, Director of Education at the Montreal Heart Institute, and Amélie Doherty, Nurse and Assistant to the Director of Education

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This article is adapted from the third edition of the Foundation’s magazine

“Thanks to this high-calibre centre, cardiovascular healthcare professionals will receive even better training. Treatments will be safer, faster and more accurate—and the patient will be able to handle them better,” said Dr. Serge Doucet.

After its inauguration in spring 2022, the brand-new Centre de formation d’excellence en santé cardiovasculaire (CESC) started welcoming teachers and students alike just a few steps from the Institute. Dr. Doucet and Amélie Doherty, R.N., bring us into the heart of this major innovative project, whose goal is to train seasoned professionals devoted to providing the highest standard of care possible.

An interdisciplinary centre with remarkable accessibility

The idea of having an education centre built into the Institute first came up in the early aughts. “Our classrooms used to be scattered all over the hospital. We wanted to create an interdisciplinary learning centre where simulation would play a prominent role and whose labs, auditorium and training facilities would all be located in one place,” explained Dr. Doucet.

As the person in charge of all activities at the education centre, Amélie is on top of all the inspiring projects that have emerged since the centre was opened. “Our service offering is exceptional. We can host major events to train professionals from outside the city and hold international symposiums, because we now have the physical space and equipment to do so. We can organize different treatment simulations at the same time on any day of the week.”

Proximity: A major obstacle to knowledge acquisition

The new centre is located right next to the Institute’s main entrance and offers an uncommon degree of accessibility, according to the director of education. “Because it’s on the first floor, the CESC benefits from direct communication with clinical care and the technical centres at the Institute. The current generation of students has tight schedules to manage. Being able to quickly get from clinical care to the simulation facilities saves time and improves access to new ways to learn. They can attend a training session on their lunch break or at the end of their day, for example.”

The simulation centre: Training tomorrow’s specialists

Simulation-based teaching plays a significant role at the CESC, which is in keeping with modern practices. “It’s 2022—we can’t teach the same way we used to. Ethically, and to ensure patient safety, we have to simulate situations before facing them in real life. Some techniques have to be practiced ten times on a mannequin before being used on an actual patient. That’s perfectly normal—we’re following ethics,” stated Dr. Doucet.

The director believes that this standard of education is a comfort to the patient and valuable in more ways than one.

“For instance, by simulating echocardiography, we can reproduce an anatomical heart using virtual reality and more easily visualize how it works. This saves us hours in the classroom—something that used to take two weeks can now be taught in a single day. When you invest your time in the right places, it improves retention, the treatments are first-rate and we have the opportunity to do even more.”

Nursing care and simulation-based teaching: Setting the standard for excellence in cardiology

According to Amélie, the Institute’s nursing staff also gains much from simulation-based teaching. “When a new nurse is hired at the Institute, even if they have 10 years of experience, they still have to take a mandatory class in cardiology because we have a complex client base. Thanks to simulation-based teaching, we can prepare new personnel for all kinds of issues, reproduce our various care units and help people develop the skills they need during onboarding before working on the floor.”

Learning to work as a team, thanks to simulation

Simulation-based teaching helps with more than just technical skills—it also facilitates interdisciplinary work. Amélie explained that “we set up simulations in our labs that sometimes involve large teams of medical residents, orderlies, nurses, respiratory therapists, anesthesiologists, and other specialists.”

“With simulated scenarios, teams can work on their technical abilities as well as their communication and interpersonal skills, which are just as important when working in a group,” said Dr. Doucet.

Donors: Providing invaluable support to education

It’s clear in Amélie’s estimation that donors play a crucial role in supporting these advancements.

“The healthcare network can’t afford to pay for this expensive simulation equipment. We would never have access to the tools we need without support from the Foundation and its donors. Training healthcare professionals the way we do would simply be impossible.”

Dr. Doucet added, “Education is sometimes undervalued or taken for granted. People mistakenly believe that teaching is straightforward, but we need training specialists and qualified educators to instruct our staff so they in turn become great teachers themselves. The Foundation has always supported us in that regard—knowledge-sharing is vital to the advancement of medicine and our practices.”

Thirty years after first stepping foot at the Institute, the director of education has witnessed a radical change in the teaching methods there and is glad that the means available to teachers to strive for excellence continue to grow. He’s confident in a promising future for the CESC. “We want to become the standard for cardiovascular training in Canada and in the world. The goal will always be to provide the best care possible to everyone who needs it.”

By making a donation, you are helping to ensure that healthcare professionals receive cutting-edge cardiovascular training.

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