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Medical Student Critical Care Medicine Elective

This four-week Critical Care Medicine elective for fourth-year medical students is consistently rated as one of the most valuable courses in the Pitt Medical School curriculum. The elective is designed to teach the cognitive and technical skills needed to undertake the initial evaluatation and management of unstable patients in Intensive Care Units.  

All students participate in an orientation, daily interactive problem-solving conferences, bedside teaching rounds, direct patient care with CCM faculty/fellow supervision, and daily sessions in the Winter Institute for Simulation Education and Research (WISER). Students are assigned to one of the General Trauma/Surgical, Neurotrauma, Neurovascular, or Transplantation Intensive Care Unis at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital or the Surgical ICU at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

During simulation sessions at WISER, students work with a computerized whole-body mannequin that has a functional mouth and airway allowing bag and mask ventilation and intubation, a chest wall that expands and relaxes with inspiration and expiration, heart sounds, a real-time display of physiologic variables including arterial, central venous, and pulmonary artery pressures, and includes electrocardiogram and pulse oximetry. 

A total of 20 lectures in the Simulation Center are a part of the elective. The daily, one-hour simulation sessions cover: 

  • Airway management
  • Pulmonary resuscitation
  • Cardiac crisis management
  • Arrhythmia management
  • Sepsis, anaphylaxis, seizure, chest pain and neurological emergencies.