He breathes, he talks, he bleeds, and he has a pulse. He is SimMan, a $60,000 simulation mannequin that brings an unprecedented degree of realism to medical education.

SimMan is one of many innovative training tools at Carolinas Simulation Center, part of Carolinas College of Health Sciences. He’s part of a family of mannequins – some funded by philanthropy – that’s helping improve patient care by allowing healthcare providers to train in lifelike conditions.

“The Center allows us to teach both simple and complex medical techniques in a safe, risk-free environment,” Center Coordinator Dawn Swiderski says. “Simulation enables healthcare providers the ability for repetitive practice to gain experience with patient care management and procedures without compromising the health and safety of real patients.”

The use of simulation technology is revolutionizing medical education and training, gaining wide-spread acceptance in nursing, medical, and allied health fields. Simulation allows for realistic scenarios using life-sized, computerized mannequins, which are able to simulate a variety of medical conditions and respond in real-time to treatments. Simulation also provides training on rare and acute conditions. Using the Center’s state-of-the-art mannequins and other simulation equipment, participants are able to learn proper techniques and improve their decision-making, communication and teamwork.

The mannequins have human-like skin and realistic skeletal structure and weight and allow participants to deal with a broad range of traumas and injuries, from stab wounds to pneumonia with septic shock. The Center also has Sim babies, Sim mothers, and a wide range of other simulation equipment. Recently, the Center partnered with CMC-Pineville to train labor and delivery nurses on high-risk obstetrical emergencies. The nurses complete scenarios, then transfer their knowledge and skills to the bedside.

MedCenter Air is one of the Center’s largest user groups. Simulation is used not only in their hiring process, where candidates are required to demonstrate proficiency in both adult and pediatric medical skills, but also it is used on an ongoing basis to provide training and skill validation to MedCenter Air employees.

People who train on the equipment say they find the approach helpful.

“I have found simulation training to be an invaluable part of my education,” says Emergency Medicine resident Liza Rosenman. “It offers a safe environment in which to encounter uncommon and life-threatening presentations that would take years, maybe even decades, to see otherwise. This opportunity has made me a more confident and competent physician in caring for my patients.”

Because of simulations, participants are able to make mistakes and learn from them without any risk to patients. Military and civilian research shows that the use of human simulation training by medical teams can dramatically reduce medical errors and improve staff attitude toward teamwork.

Opened in 2007 as a department of Carolinas College of Health Science, Carolinas Simulation Center is the only facility in the region to be accredited by both the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH). It is one of 54 institutions worldwide to receive ACS accreditation, one of only seven worldwide to receive SSH accreditation, and one of only four simulation centers in the world to be dually accredited.