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A new simulation center at Walter Reed Bethesda offers trainees at the nation’s largest military medical center, throughout the National Capital Area and Department of Defense (DOD), the opportunity to hone their skills in a realistic environment using virtual-reality equipment.

The medical simulation center was officially opened during a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony in Building 3, fourth floor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC).

In eight exam rooms, three conference rooms, a skills laboratory, a fully-outfitted operating room and emergency room/intensive care unit, the simulation center houses wireless, high-fidelity patient simulators, a state-of-the-art audio-visual system, and numerous task training instruments and equipment for world-class training.

The center was “six years in the making,” going back to the beginnings of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), explained Rear Adm. Alton L. Stocks, WRNMMC commander. Then, the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) had separate, smaller simulation centers. When the medical centers integrated to form Walter Reed Bethesda in 2011, simulation training continued at WRNMMC, but was not fully operational, added Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jeffrey Mikita, chief of the Department of Simulation at WRNMMC.

“Like everything else we do at [WRNMMC], the Nation’s Medical Center, we’re going to be out front, setting the standard for what we do in military medicine … with what we do here in the new simulation center,” Stocks added.

Mikita said the simulation center is geared towards everyone in the command, and because it’s on base, contributions from faculty and staff, and convenience for trainers, are maximized.

“The Department of Simulation is well positioned to meet the simulation needs of our community now, and shortly, I expect we will gain international accreditation for the center,” Mikita added. “Already we have worked with dozens of simulation champions in and outside of the command, and we’ve stood up over a hundred different programs at Walter Reed Bethesda.”

Medical, nursing, pediatric, dental and a number of other programs and champions have used services provided by the center, Mikita continued. He added more than 4,000 learners have received over 28,000 hours of simulation training at Walter Reed Bethesda.

Army Col. Michael Nelson, deputy commander for Education, Training and Research at WRNMMC, said the simulation center is “a tremendous resource we will all use and benefit from. The representation not in the room will probably benefit the most, and [they] are our beloved beneficiaries and patients.”

Army Maj. (Dr.) Chad Cryer, deputy director of the Department of Simulation, explained the center will be able to provide training for a variety of procedures, including endoscopy, bronchoscopy, arthroscopy and laparoscopic surgery. In addition, the center provides the capability for training in anesthesia, critical care surgery, advanced cardiac life support, pediatric advanced life support, birthing, and tactical combat casualty care. An audio-visual system is capable recording all training.

To schedule a training session in the simulation center, email Bonnie Teague at bonnie.j.teague.ctr@health.mil or Mark John Wyn at mark.j.wyn.civ@health.mil.