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It's Graduation Day for the Sim Academy at Yale

May 23, 2024

What a day! It was a day like no other and it was standing room only!

Over 100 people attended Simulation Academy at Yale’s graduation and career fair on Saturday, May 11. Entire families, including parents, siblings, and grandparents, as well as friends, showed up to cheer on their graduating students as they received diplomas for having completed an after-school hands-on simulation program focused on STEM education and exposure to careers in the health care profession.

Graduation & career fair

The morning started with Simulation Academy at Yale’s first annual career fair. The keynote speaker, Yscaira Jimenez, an innovator, investor, and entrepreneur at the intersection of education and work, discussed how these kids can reach their full potential in STEM careers. A panel discussion included an ER nurse, mid-wife, respiratory therapist, paramedic, simulation operation specialist, Yale medical student, and Yale pediatric resident, general surgery resident, and neurosurgery fellow. Each panelist spoke about their background, career choices, and exciting aspects of their jobs/training. Students and family members then had the opportunity to speak individually with the panelists. Later that morning, students showed their families the skills they had learned at the Yale Center for Healthcare Simulation (YCHS) during Simulation Academy at Yale.

Student experience at Simulation Academy at Yale

The objective of Simulation Academy at Yale is to help kids explore STEM-related careers in health care. During the program, over the course of 10 sessions, the kids practiced procedures and the philosophies behind them; the kids learned science in the classroom, and then translated what they learned to procedures they practiced in the simulation lab. For example, in the classroom, students learned how the lungs work with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the alveoli; in the simulation lab, they performed endotracheal intubation and inserted chest tubes. In the classroom, they learned about fetal blood flow through the placenta; in the sim lab, they delivered babies. In the classroom, they learned how the heart pumps blood away from the heart through arteries and blood returns to the heart through veins; in the sim lab, they inserted IVs and performed CPR, as music by Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and the Baby Shark song played in the background.

Students were asked to create scenarios during the program, based on what they learned, and then to act them out. “They were very excited, and their creativity reached far beyond our expectations,” said Program Co-director Tatiana Moylan, MD. One of the scenarios they built included an incident on a ski slope with students dressed in full gear helping a critically injured patient. Another scenario included a patient who was involved in a car accident on the way to the hospital while delivering a baby. “It was great to see how their imaginations work and how they made the connection to their year-long learning,” said Leigh Evans, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine and executive director, Yale Center for Healthcare Simulation.

Looking ahead

Two New Haven high schools—Hill Regional Career High School and Metropolitan Business Academy—participated in the program, which is funded through an R-25 Science Education Partnership Award and partnership with Yale Pathways to Science. Simulation Academy at plans to expand to Wilbur Cross and James Hillhouse high schools. Additionally in the fall, YCHS will begin a longitudinal mentoring program including Yale undergraduates, medical students, residents, and faculty.

Submitted by Abigail Roth on May 23, 2024