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The Apprentice: Simulation Lab in a Box

Anton Scheepers, Director, The ApprenticeAnton Scheepers, Director, The Apprentice
The advent of surgery is deeply entwined with the barber fraternity during the Middle Ages, and thus, teaching surgical skills followed the apprenticeship mentoring model. For multiple decades, medical students and trainees were taught clinical skills by the apprenticeship principle of ‘see one, do one, teach one’, a model that involves numerous limitations and dangers in a medical environment. “It’s no longer acceptable to allow students to learn by making mistakes on real patients,” explains Anton Scheepers, Director of The Apprentice Corporation. He unravels the history of medical teaching, how it was profoundly influenced by the aviation industry, where the simulation-teaching model has been followed for many years with great success offering a high margin of safety to both crew and passengers. “The Apprentice’s genesis centers on the belief that surgical skills should first be mastered up to a measurable level of proficiency, augmenting real-life skills with simulation learning,” says Scheepers.

Assisting future medical professionals toward a fulfilling career in medicine, The Apprentice offers two sets of solutions, The Apprentice Doctor® (range of medical kits) and The Future Doctors Academy (range of medical/surgical skills courses). The first product produced and marketed by the company was the Future Doctors Course and associated medical kit. This product focuses on Grade 10-12 high school students interested in becoming a doctor or any medical professional. It was soon realized that the high school students using the Future Doctors Kit also wanted to be formally mentored in clinical skills. Aligned with this need, the company started medical camps/programs in a number of international locations including the US, as well as South Africa and Australia.

With an aim to provide hands-on experience to medical students, the Future Doctors Course and Kit focuses on teaching various medical clinical skills— used by the spectrum of medical professions on a daily basis—and vitals (BP, heart rate, body temperature, and respiration), and also covers the 11 systems of the human body.

The Apprentice’s genesis centers on the belief that surgical skills should first be mastered up to a measurable level of proficiency, augmenting real-life skills with simulation learning

Associated with the discussion of these systems are various practical projects where students are taught medical skills by following the Future Doctors Online Course. Examining the eye, ear and mouth, the skin, nails, and hair as well as testing the visual acuity, various neurological reflexes, and the urinalysis, to mention a few, are covered in more than 50 fun medical projects. Additionally, all the Future Doctors Academy Courses come with an assessment module designed to assess the students’ knowledge about the subject and the skills acquired.

The Apprentice offers several other courses such as the Behavioral Sciences Course that focuses on teaching people’s skills and the Orthopedic Course and Fracture Reduction Kit that works as the perfect tool for affordable simulation training with a number of fracture patterns such as linear, segmental, and comminuted fractures. The newest addition to the Apprentice Doctor® Simulation kits is the Aseptic Technique Course and Scrub for Surgery Kit. The course teaches the basics of sterility and aseptic technique in a simulation environment, helping students acquire essential skills such as preparing hands aseptically with alcohol hand-rub and soap and water, how to scrub for surgery, and more. Considering a three-hour knot tying and suturing skills workshop is not enough to master skills, the firm’s Suture Kits allow students to go home and practice.

What makes The Apprentice second to none is the concept of skills training multimedia courses and accompanying medical kits, which are used to learn and acquire various skills. As an accredited member of the IADL (International Association of Distance Learning), The Apprentice Corporation provides an IADL backed certificate on the successful completion of relevant assessment module. The company is currently developing a cardiovascular module, an advanced suturing course, and other related courses in medical ethics as well as identification in a medical setting.