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August 2008 Issue
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Bio Skills SA sets new standard in medical teaching

 Health Sciences

The University of Adelaide has unveiled the most high-tech medical teaching facility South Australia has ever seen - Bio Skills SA - complete with human simulator robots and a fully integrated audiovisual system for remote videoconferencing.

Vice-Chancellor and President of the University Professor James McWha officially opened the $4.6 million facility last month at the University's Medical School.

The Bio Skills SA facility, together with a refurbished Surgical Skills Laboratory and an upgraded dissection room, provides students with access to clinical skills simulation and interaction with live patients, modern anatomy and pathology resources and surgical scenarios.

"Bio Skills SA sets a new standard of medical teaching in South Australia," Professor McWha said.

"It is the first medical teaching facility of its kind in Australia to have areas that are interchangeable to meet the different and evolving needs of staff, students and professionals.

"This is an exciting step in the University's extensive development program, which will see state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities evolve on our North Terrace, Waite and Roseworthy campuses over the next four years."

Bio Skills SA can accommodate undergraduate and postgraduate students from health science disciplines including medicine, nursing and physiotherapy.

New technology in the facility will enable students to experience clinical situations more realistically, enhancing their skill development. Key features of the facility include:

  • The Bio Skills Laboratory will house robots - human simulators - that can be programmed to speak to students during clinical skills classes, much like actual patients would speak to their doctor. This will help students learn how to treat and deal with patients when diagnosing them. They will have the ability to make errors without causing harm and observing the outcomes of different actions;
  • The Surgical Skills Laboratory replicates theatre conditions, allowing students to practise under real conditions. With 12 surgical stations and full audiovisual monitoring, students will be able to review their procedures live on screen to ensure their technique is the best possible under theatre conditions;
  • The fully integrated IT and AV system enables videoconferencing with existing campus facilities, students at remote campuses and rural and regional hospitals, and externally to teaching hospitals and other national and international institutions.

"The IT and AV is truly state-of-the-art," said Professor Justin Beilby, Executive Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

"This has particular benefits for rural teaching and professional development. Students on placements in rural South Australia can attend classes remotely via videoconference and medical practitioners working interstate or overseas can access conferences, workshops and information sessions being held at Bio Skills SA.

"We are also introducing Bio Skills robots to our teaching practices. These sophisticated human simulators reproduce clinical settings in great detail and are increasingly important educational tools. They produce lung, heart, and bowel sounds, have anatomically correct pulses and respond to medical and pharmacological interventions appropriately.

"The Medical School is always teaching at capacity and health sciences courses are rapidly increasing in popularity and student numbers. This new space responds to this demand and will provide a work and study environment that is second to none," Professor Beilby said.

Story by Olivia Jones and Anna Day

For more information about studies in Health Sciences visit Open Day (Sunday 17 August).

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University of Adelaide students Dominique Baume and May Thwin practise with a human simulator robot in the new Bio Skills Laboratory
Photo by John Kruger

University of Adelaide students Dominique Baume and May Thwin practise with a human simulator robot in the new Bio Skills Laboratory
Photo by John Kruger

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