Students from Singapore keep coming back to UF’s simulation center

Image: Bruce Nappi
Bruce Nappi

The students had about 30 minutes before it was time to board the bus and bid Jacksonville farewell.

Plenty of time to catch a simulated live birth, check out how residents train to do keyhole surgery and get a peek inside the working veins of a robot that military personnel practice on to learn basic first aid.

Students from Singapore dropped by the University of Florida Center for Simulation Education and Safety Research on Friday, Dec. 2, the last of their six days in Jacksonville before heading to Orlando.

They came by with a small group of students from Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School’s School of the Medical Arts, just a few blocks from the center.

"We don’t have facilities like this in Singapore,” said Ai Lee Tee, vice principal of the Anglo-Chinese Junior College in Singapore. “We bring them here and let them be inspired.”

Representatives from the school have been coming to the center since their Florida trips began three years ago. The school has a long history of students going into medicine, vice principal Ai Lee Tee said, and most physicians in Singapore have some sort of tie to the school.

The two dozen students, equivalent to 11th graders in America, snapped photos on cameras and cell phones as they wound through the two-story, 40-room facility in the former Methodist Medical Center.

Bruce Nappi, administrative director of the center, took them through the scrub room where doctors get fully sanitized before a procedure, and even donned a surgical gown and mask.

Before he showed the students all the surgical toys and legs that actually bleed, he stressed the educational value behind the center – allowing residents to practice intricate surgical techniques on robots instead of real people.

"The students learn by making mistakes," Nappi said. "So if they do it on a robot and they do it wrong, what happens?

"Where’s that reset button?" Nappi asks rhetorically while poking at a computer, demonstrating how easy it is to start over.

Students saw the robot that actually delivers model babies. The baby can be positioned in a variety of ways so students can practice breech births and other scenarios. Some of the teens from Singapore also got a change to test out surgical tools and watch themselves on a large television screen trying to pick up beans with the tools.

"It looks like Disneyland," Nappi told the students, "but this is the future of how we train doctors."