When Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences broke ground on a state-of-the-art simulation center earlier this month, Darrin D’Agostino revealed the instructions the school’s president, Marc Hahn, had given him for its design.

D’Agostino, the dean of the university’s osteopathic medical school, said Hahn told him to “make it future-proof.”

“By the way, I’m a hologram right now, I’m not actually here,” D’Agostino said at a ceremony that included Mayor Sly James and several donors. “This is one of the technologies (at the new center). If I start flashing and everything, you will know why.”

D’Agostino was joking, but only partially.

It was him, in the flesh, speaking, but holograms are being used in medical education now, and when the $33 million, 56,000-square-foot KCUMB simulation center opens next year, it will be equipped with virtual reality and haptic technology, which recreates the sense of touch.

So what will that mean for patients?

D’Agostino said it will mean better care by reducing medical errors, which cause about 250,000 deaths a year in the U.S.

“It’s unacceptable and the way we have to fix that is to come up with new ways of training people,” D’Agostino said. “… We want to make sure our physicians that graduate from here have the skills and the tools to do things right.”

KCUMB is joining medical schools in Kansas City and across the country in moving to more training through simulation before students ever put their hands on an actual patient.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City opened an orthopedic surgery sim center in 2014. When the University of Kansas Medical Center opened its new $82 million health education building last year, it included a significant expansion of its sim center, the Zamierowski Institute for Experiential Learning.

David A. Cook, a doctor and researcher at the Mayo Clinic, said studies have produced enough evidence to show that simulation is not just beneficial for medical students, it’s basically essential.

By Andy Marso | Kansas City Star

Image Credit: Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

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