Young Doctors Go Through Boot Camp

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We've all had butterflies before starting a new job.  But when the job may mean life or death, the staff at Mt. Carmel Medical Center thought it best to banish those butterflies before the real work begins.

A nurse at Mt. Carmel Medical Center walked into a patient room, saw a man struggling for breath, and picked up a phone to summon a doctor.

"I have a patient just came up from E-R who's having some trouble breathing.  Could you come up and take a look at him please?" she said.

In this case, the patient was not real, but the circumstances were. At Mt. Carmel Medical Center, a dozen new doctors are about to start work as interns.  What they learned in medical school will be put to the test.  So to ease the transition, after a 2-week orientation, they practiced on both actors who pretended to be patients, and medical mannequins.

"Obviously there's a big jump between medical school and working in a hospital with real patients. And with these mannequins, they can really simulate real life," said Dr. Sarah Bonnet, a new graduate of the University of West Virginia Medical College.

The simulated patients felt more real because in a darkened room next door, experienced doctors spoke for the dummy patients.  That enabled the new doctors to have a  realistic conversation with their patients.

When Dr. Bonnet asked the pretend patient, for instance, if the drugs helped his pain, the teacher's voice replied for him, "I don't think the meds help."

The interns said without this practice session, it would be a tougher adjustment.

"Definitely I would be nervous.  Simulation center gives you a chance to make mistakes, and correct them," explained Dr. Jason Joykutt, who got his medical education at a hospital in Cambridge, England.

After last year's test run of the internship boot camp, Dr. Binay Eapen of Mt. Carmel's medical education faculty, agreed that this program helps both the new doctors and their future patients.

"It comes to better patient care. So we thought this year we have to continue that, because the residents...interns...felt more confident, and they weren't ask scared as much as they were in the past," he said.

The new interns began their work on July first.