Future doctors and nurses can practice on artificial patients, future vets on artificial mice

Haiman Éva | 2022-11-08
It is more comforting for students and patients alike if future doctors and nurses practice venous blood sampling or catheter insertion not on real patients, but on dolls that mimic real life conditions. At least in the first instance. So it is great news that for the first time in Europe, a nationwide network of skills laboratories has been established in Hungary, at the universities of Debrecen, Pécs and Szeged and their 16 teaching hospitals. At Semmelweis University, the Skill Centre has already been set up, and at the University of Veterinary Medicine, students can now (also) practice on artificial mice.

It is therefore a simulation environment for the practical teaching of diagnostic, therapeutic and life-saving procedures in the three university centres and the sixteen county teaching hospital laboratories. The aim of the consortium partnership between the University of Debrecen, the University of Pécs, the University of Szeged and the National Hospital Directorate General was to increase patient safety and the efficiency of health professional training by making the so-called skill labs commonplace across the whole academic and professional health training spectrum in Hungary.

Photo: Unsplash

Epidemic-resistant demonstration base network

University clinics and health care institutions did not previously have a modern and systematically organised clinical demonstration base network for practical training in medical and health professional education. 

To fill this void, there was a need to create a network of skills laboratories that could be applied across the health care system nationwide and help minimise geographical, social and economic differences. The importance of skills labs has been further reinforced by the biggest health care challenge of our time, the Covid-19 epidemic.

The project, which was supported by the European Regional Development Fund to the value of HUF 13.5 billion, had a specific focus on the development and implementation of a standardised training program. A methodological manual, methodological guidelines and educational films will also help impart knowledge to the students.

Semmelweis had already taken action before

At Semmelweis University in Budapest, skill and simulation training had already become systemic by 2013. Semmelweis University won the Semmelweis Skill Centre tender in 2011, and one of the highlights of its implementation was the opening of the Semmelweis Simulation Centre on Ernő Street. In the new building of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University, opened this spring, a skill lab was also set up in line with the practice-oriented strategic educational goals. 

Laboratory animals are replaced by artificial mice

In veterinary education, meanwhile, there is an increasing emphasis on animal protection, including reducing the number of laboratory animals. To this end, the University of Veterinary Medicine has recently acquired artificial mice to help students acquire the basic skills needed to carry out laboratory experiments professionally.

The six Japanese artificial mice can be loaded with artificial blood for various sampling tests and their frequently used “body parts” can be replaced by swapping. The artificial mice, which cost half a million forints each, will be used for educational purposes at the University’s Department of Laboratory Animal Science and Animal Protection, gradually replacing the use of live animals in practical demonstration courses. Thanks to the mouse simulators, around 60-80 live mice are rescued each year in undergraduate education and 150-200 in postgraduate education.