Patient Simulator 'Harvey' to Train Students at UC Academic Health Center

A desire to strengthen nurse-physician relationships when treating patients has resulted in the addition of Harvey, a cardiopulmonary patient simulator, to the University of Cincinnati (UC) Academic Health Center. Harvey is housed in the Simulation Center at the UC College of Medicine and is being used by both College of Nursing and College of Medicine students.

Harvey provides a platform for developing cardiac physical exam skills among students, residents and faculty. Developed at the University of Miami Medical Center, it is one of the best known and most widely used medical simulators in the world, according to Michael Sostok, MD, assistant dean for medical education, medical director of the Simulation Center, and professor of medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine. 

"It’s great because one of the big areas that students struggle with is recognizing abnormal cardiac sounds, abnormal lung sounds, and even if they recognize them, correlating them with what the actual disease process is in a patient,” says Sostok. "Length of stay in hospitals is measured now in hours instead of days, which makes it even more difficult for health profession trainees to work with patients in a clinical setting because the patients don’t lay in their bed for very long.”

The high-tech tool arrived at UC thanks to a donation from Harry Fry, MD, a retired cardiologist in Cincinnati. Fry says that over the course of his career, often the working environment between nurses and physicians was not good. After retiring, he began working with Sally Dunn, an associate librarian emerita at the UC College of Nursing, on creating a nurse/physician collaborative. When Fry learned of Harvey from a friend on cardiology faculty at Duke University who helped developed the simulator, he thought the device would be an ideal fit for this collaboration.

"This will be a continuation of the concept that Sally and I were working on which was to bring nursing and medical students together in the classroom during their formative years and Harvey is perfect for that,” he says. "Nurses can learn from Harvey, physicians can learn from Harvey and they can learn together from Harvey, so it can bring them together.”

Harvey is designed to train students by recreating 30 different pathological problems that they can learn to recognize and become familiar with how those conditions change, and learn basic management of those conditions, according to Sostok.

"Harvey brings another tool of sophistication, of being able to hone in on the assessment skills we’re teaching and ‘his’ area of great usage is in cardiac care,” says Debi Sampsel, chief officer of innovation and entrepreneurship in the College of Nursing.

Sostok says this version of Harvey is scalable and software can be updated if necessary, based on particular training needs discovered during simulation sessions with students. 

"Harvey provides another opportunity to strengthen interprofessional collaboration between our Academic Health Center colleges to affect better training and ultimately better, safer health care for our patients,” says Sostok.