South Florida simulation center makes its mark


High-tech computer and robotic simulators are changing the way that obstetricians and gynecologists learn and maintain their skills. Now a new state-of-the-art simulation center in Tampa is changing the way academic medical centers offer this training.

With its modern architecture and gleaming glass exterior, the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, located in downtown Tampa, looks like the type of building that houses cutting-edge technology.

Courtesy of the University of South Florida

Dr. Stuart Hart (right) of CAMLS and Dr. Craig J. Sobolewski of Duke University use one of the CAMLS simulators.

The 90,000 square-foot-facility includes a surgical skills lab with more than 30 operating stations, an on-site tissue bank, a robotics suite with two da Vinci robots (S and Si), a synthetic cadaver, a 64-slice CT scanner, and a hybrid operating room. And those are just some of the offerings in the Surgical and Interventional Training Center.

The Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS), which is affiliated with the University of South Florida, houses three other centers: the Virtual Patient Care Center, the Education Center, and the Tampa Bay Research and Innovation Center.

But it’s not the technology alone that sets CAMLS apart, said Dr. Stuart Hart, an ob.gyn. and urogynecologist who is the medical director for the Tampa Bay Research and Innovation Center.

"What makes it so unique is the tight integration among the various centers at CAMLS," he said.

The center, which opened in February 2012, has a lot of overlap among its education, training, and simulation programs. Anyone who comes to CAMLS for continuing medical education can get a sense of that integration, said Dr. Hart, who also oversees the minimally invasive gynecologic surgery courses.

For instance, ob.gyns. might have the chance to practice their skills on a synthetic cadaver in the Surgical and Interventional Training Center. Then they could take a trip upstairs to the Virtual Patient Care Center, where they could continue working on high-fidelity human patient simulators and laparoscopic surgical simulators.

"That’s what makes us so exciting," Dr. Hart said.

Dr. Robert W. Yelverton, an ob.gyn. in Tampa, first became involved with CAMLS while the center was still under construction. Dr. Yelverton, who at the time was the chief medical officer for a large ob.gyn. group in central Florida, was looking for a place where his physicians could get simulator training to improve the quality and safety of robotic and minimally invasive gynecological procedures.

Courtesy of the University of South Florida

The Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in Tampa, Fla.

For example, some of their physicians hadn’t received training during residency on how to examine the bladder with a cystoscope following a gynecologic procedure. In the past, urologists had typically been the ones performing cystoscopy, so many ob.gyns weren’t trained. But with those roles changing, Dr. Yelverton wanted his physicians to be able to learn and perfect the procedure on a simulator, rather than on real patients in the operating room. With the bladder simulator at CAMLS, physicians were able to perform cystoscopy hundreds of times and see virtually every abnormal legion in a realistic fashion, he said.

"This is a huge attraction for physicians who really are looking for improvement in ways that they can perfect their surgical skills, particularly those that were introduced after they were in training," Dr. Yelverton said.

Dr. Yelverton, who is the chairman for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists District XII, is continuing to work with CAMLS to set up training for ACOG’s Florida fellows as part of their educational meetings.

He said he expects many local physicians, and even some from other parts of the country, will want to try out the center. One of the attractions, he said, is the ability to conduct team training. For instance, a team of obstetricians and nurses can simulate emergencies, from shoulder dystocia to postpartum hemorrhage, in a mock labor and delivery suite.

Practicing physicians aren’t the only ones who can hone their skills at CAMLS. The center is also available for medical students and residents, as well as pharmacy and nursing students. The certified registered nurse anesthetist program is permanently housed in the building.

Even graduate business and engineering students drop in at CAMLS as part of their work with the Tampa Bay Research and Innovation Center. Coming to CAMLS means that engineering and business students get the chance to sit down with physicians and learn about the clinical problems driving the need for new technologies and devices, Dr. Hart said.

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