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Ohio State medical students training on equipment with diverse skin tones

Medical student Jordan Haber and classmates perform a simulated procedure with myelinated suture pads.
Ohio State University
Medical student Jordan Haber and classmates perform a simulated procedure with myelinated suture pads.

Ohio State's College of Medicine is ramping up efforts to increase diversity in simulation-based clinical training by purchasing equipment to represent different races, genders, and ages.

Associate Director of Clinical Skills Jay Read said a 2017 market analysis found that almost all—greater than 90%—equipment in clinical simulation settings look like white males.

Read said the center has purchased mannequins with Black or Brown skin tones and devices that do a better job representing female populations.

"This work is really critical to preparing our medical professionals to help address concerns of health equity in the future," Read said. "I will say the students recognize there is room for improvement, as do we. So we're hoping to continue on this initiative."

The Clinical Skills Center at Ohio State has been pushing for more representation in its training devices over the last few years.

The Clinical Skills Center has purchased this equipment from manufacturers like Laerdal, Seven Sigma, Intelligent Ultrasound, and Limbs and Things.

Read says the Clinical Skills Center is committed to only doing business with manufacturers that supply better diverse options.

"When we find ourselves in a position to make a decision between the different devices, if someone can offer us something that's going to provide better diversity, we're going with them," he said. "We're being very clear with other manufacturers that they are going to lose our business if they don't provide those options."

Read said having learning experiences where the students have a chance to interface with devices that are representative of the patient population, improves clinical outcomes.

"Because they're trained in ways that make them more compassionate; that make them more effective when they're dealing with diverse patients in a clinical setting," he said.

Tyler Thompson was a reporter and on-air host for 89.7 NPR News. Thompson, originally from northeast Ohio, has spent the last three years working as a Morning Edition host and reporter at NPR member station KDLG Public Radio and reporter at the Bristol Bay Times Newspaper in Dillingham, Alaska.