The University of Tennessee Health Science Center opens a new chapter in health care education in Tennessee and beyond on May 11, when the ribbon is cut on its new $39.7 million Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation (CHIPS).
The 45,000-square-foot, world-class building at 26 South Dunlap is dedicated to education, research, and professional development of enhanced clinical skills using standardized patients (actors trained to portray patients), high-fidelity patient simulators (manikins costing from $15,000 to $220,000), and virtual reality technology. The building, which has been under construction since 2015, is the only one of its kind in Tennessee and one of only a handful in the country built for and totally dedicated to simulation training.
The center will allow students from the six colleges at UTHSC - Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Health Professions, Nursing, Medicine, and Pharmacy - to train together in simulation settings to develop their skills in delivering team-based health care, which is the proven model for the highest-quality care today.
"We are changing the face of health care education," said UTHSC Chancellor Steve Schwab, MD. "Everyone who makes up a (health care) team trains as a team from day one."
The lobby of the building is dedicated to Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for UTHSC, who had the vision for the building and has been the primary force in its development.
Each floor of the three-story building is dedicated to a different aspect of simulation training. The first floor includes bed-skill stations that will allow students to focus on preclinical skills and assessments. A virtual reality room allows students to practice simulated endoscopies, ultrasound procedures, and robotic surgeries. There is also a simulated home environment, where students can practice delivering in-home patient care.
The second floor houses a simulated acute-care setting resembling a hospital environment with patient rooms and a variety of manikins that can be used to simulate everything from surgery to labor and delivery.
The third floor houses the standardized patient program. It includes 24 patient exam rooms, as well as a community pharmacy setting. The 24 exam rooms collectively constitute the Robert J. Kaplan, MD, Clinical Skills Center, which was established in the College of Medicine in 1999 and has been housed in other locations on campus. The Kaplan Center, named for Memphis dermatologist Robert J. Kaplan, MD, an alumnus, trains future health care professionals in clinical skills, including physical examination, medical history taking, and interpersonal communication skills with standardized patients and manikins.
Chad Epps, MD, an anesthesiologist and leader in simulation education, was recruited to UTHSC in 2016 to be the executive director of the Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation.
The building is a reflection of a culture at UTHSC that values this type of training, he said. "It's most definitely a statement to the community that this institution is making a commitment to improving the way health care professionals are trained and the way health care is delivered." The center will also be a resource for continuing education for the area's health care community.
Dr. Epps has been active in simulation education, research, assessment and center management for more than 10 years. He was president of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, and past chair of the Council on Accreditation of Healthcare Simulation Programs.