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Zachary A. Blankenship

Zachary A. Blankenship, MD, CCHP

Clinical Education Director
NYC Health + Hospitals/Simulation Center

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Using Simulation Skills to Save Lives

When Dr. Zachary Blankenship’s son, Eric, was born last year, Dr. Blankenship embraced his eight weeks of paternity leave to immerse himself in his new responsibilities and to make fatherhood all the more real for himself.

So it’s a little ironic that upon his return to work — as Clinical Director of Simulation and Director of Simulation at NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem  —  Dr. Blankenship became excited about a new state-of-the-art baby mannequin that can simulate a range of medical crises. The “Sim Baby” joins Dr. Blankenship’s dozens of other mannequins — including partial ones, like a disembodied pelvis used to practice childbirth — that are used to teach and practice difficult procedures and scenarios.

“It’s a safe place to practice and learn skills that can be translated to clinical practice,” he said. What began with a focus on emergency medicine is now branching out into trauma surgery and pediatrics — for example, a simulated teenager who was hit by a car with injuries including a ruptured spleen and a pelvic fracture.”

At a conference this year, he helped present data collected by NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi’s Maternal Mortality Reduction Team, showing how simulation could correct for racial bias and presumptions about health screening as they relate to substance use disorder.

And he is sometimes the simulation himself, as when he pretended to have a stroke and mobilized the radiology and neurology departments, complete with simulated abnormal CAT scans.

“Zach also offers his clinical knowledge to help support the development and refinement of our educational content, learning video editing to recraft our central line video,” said Michael Meguerdichian, Senior Assistant Vice President of NYC Health + Hospitals/Simulation Center.

But when Dr. Blankenship is off the clock, he prefers the real thing: walks in Central Park, hikes, and boating along the rivers of his native Oklahoma. “There’s nothing really like being out in nature,” he said. “It can be very healing.”

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