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Mannequins Become Test Patients For Regions Doctors

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- When pilots learn to fly they have flight simulators to help.

But what about Doctors? Most have to rely on doing their first major procedures on real live patients. Now at Regions Hospital there is a different way.

They have a special simulation center, where mannequins worth tens of thousands of dollars can be made to simulate everything from giving birth to a heart attack.

The center opened in 2010, and it just became the first nationally accredited center in the five state upper Midwest region.

At the Simulation Center at Regions, there are mannequins that are child and adult sized. All are breathing and have pulses. Every now and then, the mannequins simulate a full blown crisis. When staff send one mannequin into cardiac arrest, medical students and young medical residents rush in to help.

They are evaluated on their performances. For resident Dr. Morgan Groth, it's an invaluable lesson.

"I think practice makes perfect and I think having as much practice prior to actually doing it is going to be best for the patient," Groth said. "The lifelike mannequins not only teach young doctors how to handle crises, but also how to improve bedside manner and other situations that can be stressful."

Bedside manner can be among the toughest things to teach. Gail Johnson, the director of clinical simulation for Regions Hospital said it helps people practice interacting when they are not using medical speak.

A mannequin called "Noelle" gives birth. Simulating a live birth allows doctors to train for critical complications.

"It can be a matter of life and death if you don't know what steps to take," said Dr. James Pete.

The mannequin called "Noelle" cost around $40,000, and other mannequins can cost as much as $200,000.

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