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Virtua Health Opens Simulation Center for Operating Room Education and Training

February 28, 2024 - New facility provides health care students and workers with a safe environment to learn both basic and advanced operating room procedures and best practices.

February 28, 2024

Virtua Health, a leading academic health system, has opened a multi-room simulation “sim” center in Berlin, N.J. The facility provides health care students and workers with a safe environment to learn both basic and advanced operating room procedures and best practices. The center includes two mock operating suites, an observation area, and a classroom; it is the first and only simulation center in the region that is solely and specifically dedicated to developing surgical skills.

The sim center offers learning opportunities for the wide range of health care professionals who work in an operating room. Nursing students, medical students, and medical residents – many from the Virtua Health College of Medicine & Life Sciences of Rowan University – will participate in multi-week programs within the center. Additionally, established Virtua Health employees can use the sim center to refine their skills or develop advanced techniques.

The sim center is located within the multi-purpose Virtua Health & Wellness Center – Berlin. The campus includes a satellite emergency department, radiology and imaging, and behavioral health services, among other health care offerings.

“The stakes are high in a real operating room. Everyone must work in harmony and carry out their role with care and precision,” said Margaret “Meg” Coley, vice president of surgical services for Virtua Health. “The sim center gives students and established professionals a chance to learn, grow, and gain confidence. Like with all aspects of life, practice is essential.”

“Nothing is simple in an operating room,” added AnneMarie Palatnik, vice president of clinical learning and research at Virtua Health. “From the way we don and doff our PPE to the specific and thorough way we wash our hands, there is an exacting degree of detail that is necessary for maintaining a safe environment. Now we have a realistic setting for future health care workers to master their craft.”

Virtua Health serves dual functions as an acclaimed academic health system and a trusted community-based care provider. The Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine is the largest of its kind in New Jersey. The Rowan-Virtua affiliation also includes two nursing schools and the Rowan-Virtua School of Translational Biomedical Engineering & Sciences.

Virtua is home to 11 medical residency and fellowship programs, all of which can utilize the sim lab. Additionally, Virtua has capacity for 70 to 80 undergraduate medical students to concurrently learn at Virtua’s many South Jersey campuses – representing more than 400 clinical rotations to date. (Rotations are periods during medical training in which medical students learn in real health care settings.)

“Our aim is for the sim center to replicate the real world by having future doctors, nurses, technicians, and support staff hone their abilities side-by-side,” said Palatnik. “This collaborative, supportive space helps us to ready the next generation of health care leaders.”