March 10, 2020

Faced with stressful situations while caring for patients, it’s no wonder that doctors, nurses and pharmacists often find themselves in unimaginable circumstances.

To prepare Aggies entering the health care field for the full range of medical situations they could encounter, the Clinical Learning Resource Center (CLRC) at Texas A&M’s Health Science Center (HSC) serves students across the HSC colleges and a multitude of other medical and nursing programs across the state by helping students refine their fundamental and clinical skills in controlled, simulated health care environments. Highly specialized instructional technology is utilized, including computer-programmed full-body manikins with the capacity to realistically simulate a range of physiological states and responses.

To best equip students to encounter the ever-changing dynamics of a clinical or hospital setting, the CLRC’s staff assist faculty to implement various simulations. “Working in health care is all about learning how to adapt to a multitude of scenarios and being prepared for any number of situations that could arise,” said Kim Yandell, assistant director of the CLRC.

Simulations are leading the way to provide invaluable experience to students, because they allow Aggie health care professionals to encounter certain situations in the clinical or hospital setting without putting the patient at risk. “We are trying to teach students in a safe environment how to deliver patient-centered health care through human interaction and cutting-edge technology, such as telehealth models, high fidelity manikins and ventriloscopes (simulated stethoscopes),” said Dr. Regina Beard, assistant vice chancellor for health services and interim director for the CLRC.  

The Standardized Patient (SP) Program

One of the unique opportunities that students have in the CLRC is working with a standardized patient in a realistic case scenario. Individuals are recruited to portray patients from infancy through retirement. In a simulation with a standardized patient (SP), students can practice their assessment and communication skills by interacting with SPs assigned an ailment or illness for the purpose of the simulation. The SPs undergo prior training to understand how to adapt to the simulation.

For example, if the student asks a specific question or performs a certain procedure, the patient is trained to respond accordingly and present a variety of realistic scenarios that students must navigate. “This allows students to identify and practice their responses and implement good communication in high-stakes scenarios,” Beard said. “With good practices in place, they reduce the chances of experiencing the worst outcome.”

Check out four unique simulations with the SP program that students experience at the CLRC:


1. Adult Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Simulation

This simulation teaches practicing nurses how to critically assess and examine patients who have been sexually assaulted or abused. Gynecologic teaching associates (GTAs) and male urogenital teaching associates (MUTAs) assist in this training. These are individuals with extensive education on how to perform these medical forensic assessment skills on their own bodies. They are both patient and instructor, allowing learners to perform the exam skills on their body under their guidance. This allows the learner to practice these new skills in a safe and controlled environment that fosters patient empowerment. The TAs are further trained to simulate the demeanor of a patient that has experienced sexual assault. The application of synthetic bruises and blood or “moulage” add a further layer of realism. During the scenarios, experienced sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) partner with TAs to educate learners on correct methods of medical forensic physical examination, evidence collection and trauma-informed patient-centered communication practices.

2. Birthing Room

In the birthing room, students experience both normal and complicated delivery situations. “Although they experience normal delivery, most students do not expect the baby to be so slippery!” Dr. Beard said. “We ensure that the simulated baby is as close as possible to what they will encounter in real life.” In addition, students learn how to navigate through complicated, life-threatening deliveries. “We repeat scenarios as many times as possible so that all of our students are prepared when they graduate,” Dr. Beard added. “This gives them the training they need so that they can sufficiently react to the worst- and best-case scenarios.”


3. Emergency Room

The Emergency Room (ER) is simulated to resemble an ER in the hospital. Students can practice skills such as CPR and intubation on a computer full-bodied manikin with the capacity to realistically simulate a range of physiological states and responses. Students can repeat the procedures until they are competent without injury to a “real patient.”


4. Telemedicine

In the CLRC, students also have the chance to participate in scenarios where telehealth is used. This experience shows students how technology is changing the field of health care. Telehealth services offer a new way to increase access to health care, especially for those in rural, military and underserved communities. Through videoconferencing technology, providers can treat patients without asking them to travel well-beyond their hometown for diagnosis or treatment.


To support the work that the Clinical Learning Resource Center does to teach the next generation of health care providers, contact Patty Rabel ’80 at or (979) 436-0175 or David Boggan at or (979) 436-0811.