Birth simulator helps OB-GYN residents train for deliveries

Victoria is in labor and is moments away from giving birth. Just about everything in this scenario is real, except the patient is a mannequin.

“Now, we know deep down in our hearts they’re not real, but if you can suspend that belief and pretend that it’s a real patient just for a short amount of time, believe it or not you get really involved in it,” said Dr. Christine Hader, clinical simulation director at Hackensack Meridian Health. “It feels real. And when you can make it feel real, we perform real.”

OB-GYN residents are delivering a baby in The Center for Simulation and Experiential Learning in Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s new Hope Tower.

“It’s the perfect environment that was specifically, really designed with our learners in mind,” Hader said. “When you enter a career in medicine, no matter what that career is, you have to become a lifelong learner.”

All different types of medical professionals interact with the mannequins, who are surrounded by equipment used in the hospital. Michael was just sedated for a surgery, while John is being admitted to the ER. Victoria’s eyes track movement and she talks.

While the residents are delivering her baby, the Sim Ops specialist is controlling everything in the next room while Hader talks into the microphone and pretends to be Victoria. Hader watches the contractions on the screen, the same screen the residents see in the delivery room.

“I think it’s going to be most applicable to our new interns that come in every year to be able to understand the actual mechanics of a delivery before applying it to real life so that if they do encounter any issues, complications, they know what to expect and anticipate it before happening,” said fourth year OB-GYN resident Dr. Robin Andersen.

“You have not only the book knowledge, which of course we study, but now you have the muscle memory, ‘OK, I have to lower the bed because I’m going to have to be able to do downward pressure.’ And all of those things you now have a physical memory along with not only a text book memory,” said third year OB-GYN resident Dr. Brenna Sommer.

The medical room can be transformed into a variety of different clinical settings. Before the team enters the operating room they have to scrub, so there’s a station where residents, techs, and others learn how to properly scrub before surgery.

Hader and her staff often take the mannequins off-site to their hospitals. They’re admitted like any other patient.

It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of days to make up the mannequin using paint, chalk and more. Hader creates the appearance of second and third-degree burns, though it’s not all about the mannequins. Eventually the medical team will have a chance to interact with real people — actors taking on the role of the patient in exam rooms.

“It really helps us do, not only skill building over there or assessment skills, procedural skills maybe, but really those soft skills when it comes to communicating and connecting with our patients,” Hader said.

Back in the delivery room, Victoria gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Rose, weighing in at 5 pounds 15 ounces. The doctors are happy to report that both mom and baby are doing well.