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Patient Simulator Will Enhance Medical Students' Training

By Cynthia Machamer

Release Date: December 28, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y -- A computerized patient simulator valued at $30,000 and designed to improve the training of medical students has been donated to the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences by Margaret W. Paroski, M.D., and her husband, Peter Martin, Sr.

Paroski, a UB professor of neurology, has been on the faculty of the medical school since 1984 and served as its interim dean from 2003-05. She also serves as executive vice president and chief medical officer for Kaleida Health System, the largest health-care provider in Western New York. A 1980 graduate of the medical school, she is a past president of the UB Alumni Association and the UB Medical Alumni Association.

"One of the greatest gifts I have received in my life is the education I received at UB's medical school," said Paroski. "I received a phenomenal education, and there's a tremendous need to invest in the future. I like to remind people that if you look at who we are training today, they are only going to be as good as we make them. Peter and I feel that this is an investment we can't go wrong on."

"We are grateful to Margaret and Peter for their generous gift to the medical school," said Michael E. Cain, dean of the medical school. "Their gift has allowed the school to join the growing ranks of medical schools across the country that have made patient simulators a part of their curriculum."

The decreasing number of hospital inpatients and changing attitudes about practicing on animals are driving the need for simulators in medical education.

Manufactured by Medical Education Technologies, Inc. (METI), the patient simulator -- a full-body mannequin -- is driven by a computer whose software includes a series of 12 pre-programmed learning scenarios, six of which have been purchased by the school. The scenarios include such events as myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure with pulmonary edema, exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases with respiratory failure, pneumonia with septic shock, a splenic rupture with pneumothorax and a stab wound to the chest. The mannequin's skin is life-like to touch, its eyes blink, its chest rises and falls with each breath and its pulse throbs.

The patient simulator has affectionately been named "The Great L.H." in honor of Martin's late father -- Lawrence Henry Martin -- who suffered a severe stroke in 1987.

"The care he received -- both good and not-so-good -- prompted us to invest in technology that will accelerate and improve a student's or young doctor's exposure to very challenging cases," said Martin.