About Us


Uncompromising excellence in the education of medical professionals through human, technical, and anatomical simulation.


Recognizing the cogent evidence of simulation’s effectiveness in skills development and knowledge reinforcement, the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine established the Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment (CELA), making its curricula an essential component of every medical student’s training.

CELA consists of three interrelated domains: human simulation using standardized patients, technical simulation utilizing state-of-the-art mannequins, and experiential training using human cadavers.  CELA strives for growth, balance and integration into students' clinical experiences with live patients, achieving this by preserving the highest degree of realism within carefully scripted encounters, dynamic scenarios, and progressively complex anatomical lessons. 

CELA optimizes the benefits of simulation by means of multiple layers of thoughtful feedback and assessment, with a view towards enhancing professional communication skills and the mitigation of human error in the delivery of patient care.  This, in turn, lends to programmatic refinements and further exploitation of simulation’s value. Beyond the initial training of medical professionals, CELA provides a context and setting for research, testing and validating innovation in medical procedures and technologies.

  • Make critical educational contributions in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine at all levels, from pre-medical through undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education
  • Facilitate quality clinical care via on-going training and quality assurance programs for all types of clinicians and at multiple levels within the Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Stand as a major educational resource throughout Vanderbilt University, in the Nashville community, and across the Tennessee Valley
  • Provide critical resources supporting clinical research and extramurally funded projects
  • Flourish as a community educational resource
  • Generate significant, positive impressions of Vanderbilt University

Simulation proves its value to Medical Education by a variety of measures.  To cite a few examples, faculty specify and schedule simulation curricula in advance, when it makes the most sense in the continuum of training, rather than leaving it to the chance occurrence of learning during everyday patient care. The current generation of simulation technology and standardized patient presentation generate realism sufficient to be a surrogate for actual patient care.  Lastly, by design and as a primary objective, simulation focuses on the learner and the application of knowledge, with the concomitant development of personal skill, rather than upon patient care.

Patient simulation provides the ability to repeatedly practice a wide range of clinical scenarios. Entirely replicable and highly standardized, simulated clinical encounters permit easier review and performance evaluation. Videotaped and reviewed by trainers, simulation experiences further facilitate learning and permit assessment of process and style, as well as outcome.

The convenience of scheduled practice on specific clinical events permits effective and efficient team training. Lessons taught in a realistic simulation translate into lasting retention due to the required active-learning and focused concentration, the experience's emotional investment, and the direct association with the real world.  In sum, simulation not only complements clinical encounters, it finely tills readied minds, enhances skills, and informs a more compassionate and authentic professional confidence in the delivery of patient care.

Simulation as a Teaching Tool:

The application of clinical knowledge and the development of skills to diagnose successfully and treat patients effectively requires deliberate and meaningful practice. Opportunities to practice clinical management may be limited, because many specific clinical problems occur infrequently and are usually complicated by confounding factors.

Traditionally, medical students and residents acquire complex communication skills “on the fly” (e.g., doctor-patient interactions), with little time for practice and feedback. Consequently, actual clinical crises present suboptimal learning opportunities because of their relative rarity.  Each event is unique, and improper treatment can have tragic consequences.  Societal pressures, including cost-containment, ever changing litigious climates, and patient safety issues, increasingly preclude the use of real patients, especially ill ones, in hands-on medical education and training.  Such an emergent reality renders untenable the "see one, do one, teach one" model. In its stead, simulation provides a unique opportunity to train clinical excellence more efficiently and effectively.

Current Events


November 5, 8:00am - 5:00pm

ASA-endorsed simulation training that meets the  requirement for Part IV (Practice Performance Assessment & Improvement) of Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology (MOCA®).