Simulation has become an integral part of education at all levels within the medical field. The ability to allow personnel to practice and learn in a safe and controlled environment makes it a valuable tool for initial training and continued competence verification. An area of specific interest to the reconstructive microsurgeon is assurance that the nursing staff has adequate training and experience to provide optimum care for microsurgery patients. Plastic surgeons in institutions where few microsurgeries are performed face challenges teaching nurses how to care for these complex patients. Because no standard exists to educate microsurgery nurses, learning often happens by chance on-the-job encounters. Outcomes, therefore, may be affected by poor handoffs between inexperienced personnel. Our objective is to create a course that augments such random clinical experience and teaches the knowledge and skills necessary for successful microsurgery through simulated patient scenarios. Quality care reviews at our institution served as the foundation to develop an accredited nursing course providing clinical training for the care of microsurgery patients. The course combined lectures on microsurgery, pharmacology, and flap monitoring as well as simulated operating room, surgical intensive care unit, postanesthesia care unit, Trauma Bay, and Floor scenarios. Evaluation of participants included precourse examination, postcourse examination, and a 6-month follow-up. Average test scores were 72% precourse and 92% postcourse. Educational value, effectiveness of lectures and simulation, and overall course quality was rated very high or high by 86% of respondents; 0% respondents rated it as low. Six-month follow-up test score average was 88%. Learning to care for microsurgery patients should not be left to chance patient encounters on the job. Simulation provides a safe, reproducible, and controlled clinical experience. Our results show that simulation is a highly rated and effective way to teach nurses microsurgery patient care. Simulated patient care training should be considered to augment the clinical experience in hospitals where microsurgery is performed.
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