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Escape Room Simulation Challenge Injects Fun into Medical Education

One of the highlights of this year’s SingHealth Residency Open House was the SingHealth Duke-NUS Institute of Medical Simulation (SIMS) Escape Room Challenge. The Challenge injected some fun into participants’ exploration of the Academia building, testing their skills through a series of hands-on games that required them to complete simulated tasks. Jacqueline Chua, a Year 5 medical student from the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine took on the SIMS Escape Room Challenge and recounts her experience.

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The SIMS Escape Room Challenge was a unique experience at the SingHealth Residency Open House. The challenge started off in the basement of Academia, and progressed to the upper levels of the building. Within an hour, using state-of-the-art simulation equipment, we were challenged to ‘escape’ each room.

These equipment are mainly employed for simulation training in laparoscopic and endoscopic procedures, and the opportunity to use them helped us appreciate a fraction of the technical skill and precision required of surgical Residents. For example, one of the stations in the SIMS Escape Challenge required us to stack six sugar cubes using laparoscopic equipment. While this sounded like a no-brainer plucked off the ‘Minute to Win It’ game show, the task turned out to be more challenging than expected. My inexperienced hands struggled to convert the two-dimensional images into three-dimensional movements, and it was only after successfully but precariously balancing the sixth cube that I realized I had been holding my breath in concentration.

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Similarly, the endoscopy station required us to burst balloons in the ‘colon’ as we navigated it with a colonoscope. What struck me most was that wanting to move my scope in a particular direction on the screen required pushing the dial up and down, which was most counter-intuitive. Unlike some of my male classmates, I did not come into medical school with a “Diploma in Gaming”. Throughout the challenge, we had to be careful not to perforate the bowel with over-vigorous movements. The garish cartoon faces on the balloons belied the complexity of the actual procedures, often complicated by low Boston bowel preparation scores and squirming patients.

Having tried out the simulation, it was hard to believe that the rate of complications during endoscopic procedures, including bowel perforation, is less than 1 in 1000! I took comfort in the knowledge that this was merely a simulation setting, and was suitably impressed that surgical Residents could make use of the simulation equipment for practice on a regular basis.

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Other stations required us to identify items in a typical Operating Theatre and, on a task trainer, to identify structures such as the median nerve in the hand using surface landmarks. While it was a little bemusing that we had to access different floors to get to stations so as to escape the ‘room’, it was still a fun and refreshing attraction at the SingHealth Residency Open House. The SIMS Escape Challenge certainly served the purpose of showcasing the range of simulation equipment available to SingHealth Residents.

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Returning to the rest of the Open House, I took the liberty of visiting the Llaollao frozen yogurt, nachos and Kacang Puteh stands. The ingenious inclusion of these snack stalls made the atmosphere at the SingHealth Open House seem almost carnival-like, and I am sure all the participants enjoyed themselves. Kudos to the organisers for an Open House 2017 well-planned!

Written by Jacqueline Chua
Year 5 Medical Student, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
Academic Head, Lee Kong Chian Medical Society