|With patient demand running continually high, space is at a premium on the Vanderbilt Medical Center campus. It's Grand Central Station but with lots of very sick people, where bed management entails the balletic coordination and hair trigger reflexes of a NASCAR pit crew. Entire clinics are preparing to decamp next year, heading en mass across town to a repurposed shopping mall that's surrounded by acre after acre of parking spaces. But they won't be any less busy after their move.
"Twenty years ago, students could see a patient over a two-week period. Now patients are gone in three days, and they're very busy while they're here, so it's a different environment that students are being forced to learn in. In most clinical experiences, you catch what you can and it's completely random how students learn," said John Shatzer, Ph.D., director of CELA, the Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment.
A building in the heart of the campus, CELA's new 11,000-square-foot facility is a $6 million test kitchen tucked within a bustling 24-hour mega restaurant. It's about verisimilitude. Students learn how to be doctors here, in an innovative instructional environment designed to give a leg up to students and residents, and to lend new spice to Continuing Medical Education.
WRITTEN BY PAUL GOVERN
ILLUSTRATION BY ANDROSOV KONSTANTIN FOR ISTOCK