Physical Therapy Students Participate in New Opportunities for Learning Experiential Learning Facilities at Emory School of Medicine

excel_1The Emory Center for Experiential Learning (ExCEL) is located in the new Emory School of Medicine building. The center is a state-of-the-art facility encompassing over 10,000 square foot of educational space. ExCEL includes spaces for low-tech task trainers, sophisticated human patient simulators, and virtual reality equipment for surgical techniques. Experiential learning provides the trainee with a safe environment to learn and practice clinical skills. The skills range from basic procedures to sophisticated team-based scenarios. All sessions in ExCEL can be recorded and played back for later analysis and self-assessment. The training is done in a non-threatening environment for the trainee without consequences for an actual patient. The OSCE (Observed, Structured, Clinical Exam) Clinical Skills Center, SIM (Simulation) Lab, and the Fresh Tissue Laboratory are all part of ExCEL.


OSCE Center

The OSCE Center is used for standardized patient education, clinical skills education, physical diagnosis and other educational experiences. It contains four suites each of which contain a central debrief room with projection capability and 4 examination rooms equipped with examination table and standard clinic equipment. Standardized patients (actors) allow students to practice history, physical examination, and communication skills. Competency can be discreetly observed and assessed objectively with standardized evaluation instruments with immediate feedback. Feedback and evaluation can be provided by the standardized patient and the instructor.

Physical therapy instructors are utilizing the OSCE Center for practice and graded practical exams in General Medical, Musculoskeletal, and Neurorehabilitation Symptom Complexes.


Simulation rooms have the capacity for direct and remote observation and recording. Much of the equipment is mobile allowing integration of experiential learning into the class room and small group learning.

What is Simulation?

excel_2Mannequin-based simulations use high fidelity simulators. These simulators are mannequins that physiologically respond to treatment similar to what would occur in real life patients. The simulated patient can be assessed by the learner; they can initiate treatment with a resultant response, and perform a variety of procedures. This is done in a controlled learning environment that mimics the real-life patient care settings but is safe for the patient and learner. We offer several types of simulation experiences: high fidelity, full-sized mannequins, task trainers, actors that portray patients (standardized patients), and virtual reality for surgical procedures.


Each of the four simulation rooms are flexible spaces that can be manipulated to incorporate a multitude of scenarios. The simulators can create real-life teaching environments that range from outpatient examination rooms to inpatient rooms in areas such as the emergency department, intensive care unit, labor and delivery suite, and an operating theatre. Standardized actors can be incorporated to increase the realism of these environments. All the simulations can be observed in real-time through the control room or reviewed using a web-based broadcast which can be live or delayed. Evaluation software is available for assessment of student’s performance. Two large clinical skills spaces can be used for a variety of training programs and as lecture space. The center has two multimedia classrooms for debriefing sessions. In addition, we have additional space for Harvey, a high fidelity heart sound simulator.


High Fidelity Simulators

  • 4 Adult simulators
  • 1 obstetric simulator
  • 1 Newborn simulator
  • 1 Five year old simulator
  • 1 Endoscopy simulator
  • 1 Angiography simulator
  • 4 Surgical virtual reality laparoscopy trainers
  • 4 Surgical laparoscopy box trainers

Low Fidelity Simulators and Task Trainers

  • 4 ACLS simulators
  • 4 airway management trainers
  • 5 Central line mannequins including two ultrasound compatible mannequin
  • 2 Pediatric airway management trainers
  • 4 Birthing, pelvic, breast, rectal/prostate, and testicular examiniaton task trainers
  • 12 Intravenous training arms


  • 4 Blood pressure training systems
  • 4 Fundoscopic examination models
  • 4 Ear examination models
  • 5 Adult and pediatric CPR trainers
  • 5 AED trainers
  • 4 Lumbar puncture trainers
  • 3 Arterial blood gas trainers
  • 2 Gynecologic ultrasound trainers
  • 1 Knee arthrocentesis trainer

Students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program participate in various learning experiences in the SIM lab, including an intensive care unit simulation during the General Medical Complex.