SGEI’s Health Disciplines Simulation Lab is stepping into the future of health education

Ken Kellar
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

SGEI health lab 4The future of health education is here, and it’s at Seven Generations Education Institute (SGEI).

SGEI campuses in Fort Frances, Kenora and Sioux Lookout are rolling out their brand-new Health Disciplines Simulation Labs in order to provide their students in various programs like nursing, paramedics and support worker with a top of the line and state of the art learning facility. The tools and technologies at their disposal will help to ensure each student hits the ground running when they get a job in their desired field, whether in a hospital or at the helm of an ambulance.

In Fort Frances, the simulation lab takes up the entire back half of a classroom, purposely designed to simulate a real hospital setting with lifelike patients to get students comfortable with some of the things they will be doing on the job, according to SGEI Health Disciplines Coordinator Taylor Noble.

“It’s very unique and it’s such a good learning experience for the students,” Nobel said of the lab and tools within.

“It helps because it gives [students] that ability to try to critically think and decide on the spot, in that moment, but also be in a stable controlled environment where they have that support from an instructor… but also prepares them for a real-life situation in the hospital.”

SGEI health lab 2The simulation lab contains three medical-grade hospital beds that each feature a Laerdal mannequin that is designed to be as life-like as possible. Each mannequin has several fully articulated joints and areas on the body that can be swapped out for different wounds or conditions. The lab also has an infant/child mannequin for modified procedures.

The mannequins are so advanced that students will be able to check their pulse and blood pressure, listen to their heart and lungs for irregularities and administer mock medication through real syringes and IV needles. Taking things up another notch, the mannequins also have the ability to cough, wheeze and scream at the behest of an instructor who controls all of their functions via a tablet, ensuring the students can hone their skills in a safe but ultra-real environment.

“We can monitor the carbon dioxide saturation, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure,” Noble explained.

“We can actually connect fake blood concentrate in there, so they can actually inject the needles and get bloodflow back so they know they’ve hit the veins. Students are able to use the exact same equipment they would have access to in the hospital to practice.”

In a room full of impressive and cutting edge tech, however, one item reigns above all. Tucked away in the far corner of the simulation lab is an unassuming white table that hides a staggering secret. The table, called the Anatomage Virtual Dissection Table, is like something out of Star Trek, a futuristic learning tool that turns anatomy lessons from the textbook into a 3D render right at their fingertips.

Giving a demonstration, Noble showed how the table, functioning like a human-length iPad, can take a realistic image of a human body, with options to modify body type and gender, and strip off layers of skin, muscle, bone and more to display or highlight different parts of the body, like internal organs, the nervous system or more than 1,500 other systems the table is programmed for. It’s a high definition look inside the human body and the level of detail that can be explored, along with some of the options for doing that exploring, might make it a tough sell for the squeamish. Staff at the school are still learning how to use all of the functions of the Anatomage, but even with their current understanding of what it can do, it gives SGEI students the opportunity to see and explore parts of the human body that wouldn’t be possible outside of a morgue setting, a donated cadaver or other specialized education materials.“This provides more of that visualization aspect for the students” Noble said.

SGEI health lab 3“So for students who learn more visual, hands-on, they can come to this table and they can learn. They can cut, look at all the different organs. Anatomy and physiology is a huge concept, there’s just so much content for them to have to learn, so for them to be able to learn not only the muscular-skeletal system but all the nerve pathways, lymphatic system, and so many students go throughout their schooling not actually being able to have that visualization piece, so they have this right at their fingertips to be able to utilize.”

The Anatomage table is also fairly unique in the region, with only the SGEI’s Kenora and Sioux Lookout campuses being the other two education facilities that have one in northwestern Ontario, according to Nobel.

Taken as a whole unit, the Health Disciplines Simulation Lab sets SGEI’s health programs leaps and bounds apart from other health programs. The ability to practice in a hospital-like setting on “patients” who can give realistic feedback gives students a chance to get comfortable with their skills and knowledge in a safe place, long before ever setting foot in a professional medical building.

“It allows Seven Generations Education Institute to enhance that learning experience and to give the most optimal experience, with all the equipment that we have, to make sure it’s high functioning for students to be able to really learn,” Noble said.

“And again, just to help them use this equipment to build that confidence, to feel comfortable, we tried to have the simulation lab really mimic the healthcare settings with the same types of equipment just to build that confidence and security for when they go into the clinical setting.”

Currently SGEI has a cohort of seven students enrolled in its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program here at the Fort Frances campus, but the school will also begin taking applications from students for its Paramedic, Practical Nursing and Personal Support Worker programs “very soon,” according to Nobel. Each of those programs are scheduled to begin in September 2021 and will also make use of the simulation lab to enhance their learning.

For more information on Seven Generations Education Institute or any of the programs they offer, visit their website at