In the medical profession, experience is key. Doctors and surgeons with more experience tend to do better as they have run into more situations and have more familiarity with dealing with certain procedures or cases. This is something that comes from years of work in the field and is hard-earned. But this creates a little problem. Every doctor has to get a start somewhere, and no one is born with experience. And since every patient wants their doctor to be the seasoned veteran, how can newer doctors gain this valuable practice?
Apprenticing is one option, with the green doctor working alongside an old-hat professional. But this isn’t always an option for everyone, so the next best thing is utilized: medical manikins.
A manikin is a mockup of a human, either complete or in part, that was designed to allow medical students to practice certain procedures upon it. You’ve probably seen these used in CPR training. Well, imagine that, but applicable for a wide variety of other procedures. These manikins exist for everything from treating trauma patients, to childbirth simulators, to simple things like taking blood. They allow for realistic practice without the risk of working on a live patient. While they are still not a total substitute for real world practice, they can help a lot in early and intermediate training.
These manikins can be useful in training in diagnosis as well, with the application of special makeup (moulage) that can give the manikin certain features of symptoms that the doctor must then diagnose.
In the future, things like virtual reality could eventually replace the medical manikin as a means of getting practice and experience, but until then, this is the best option available.