A new high-tech hospital simulation could help boost the region's struggling health workforce.
(min cost $8)
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The Wellington-based Centre for Rural Education Simulation and Training (CREST) - which officially opened on Tuesday, July 25 - will give nurses hands-on clinical experience using life-like mannequins and virtual reality.
Western NSW Local Health District chief executive Mark Spittal said the centre is part of the district's commitment to increasing hospital staffing levels in the region.
"Our district is committed to building a strong and sustainable workforce, now and in the future," he said.
"To do that, we want to use innovative strategies like the CREST to give our clinical staff great development infrastructure that they can access in our own district.
"At the end of the day we want people to come and work for us and really enjoy it, and a lot of that has to do with how we support them when they arrive and in their ongoing development."
CREST manager and senior nurse educator Gabrielle Arnold said the centre will provide simulation-based education in an environment replicating rural emergency departments, wards and residential aged care facilities.
"We can change the area to being an emergency department room or to a ward. It's a flexible learning space so depending on what we need them to learn we can change it," she said.
Among the high-tech toys that will be helping students learn at the centre are a 3D printer for organs and life-like mannequins Alex, Elizabeth and Timmy.
"Alex is a very high-fidelity mannequin - basically he's as close to a human being as he can be, without the warmth of his skin. He can do anything else a human can do - breathe, talk, get fractures, scream," Ms Arnold said.
"And then we have Elizabeth and her family, they're life casts of real people. She has wrinkly knees and veins and she looks like a real person. That's to help them with the empathy of when they're looking after a patient."
NSW Health minister Ryan Park said the facility will also allow nurses travelling into the region from other parts of Australia or overseas to gain a better understanding of what working in a rural hospital is like.
"Our regional and rural workforce provide a vital service to our communities and we know these methods increase learner engagement and knowledge retention, enabling advanced skill development," he said.
"Developing the CREST in Wellington will reduce the need for clinical staff to have to travel outside the region to upskill or complete clinical competency requirements.
It provides nurses and other clinicians with high-quality training and education experiences to keep working safely and confidently in a rural setting."
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