Inside Dentistry
October 2010
Volume 6, Issue 9

Zimmer Institute™ Expands Simulated Patient Training to East Coast

Known for its state-of-the-art, hands-on simulated patient-based education in surgery and prosthetics, developed by leading universities and taught by world-class faculty.

Zimmer Dental is pleased to announce the expansion of its Zimmer Institute™ to a third training facility, located in Parsippany, New Jersey. This comprehensive program covers all aspects of dental implant therapy, including diagnosis, treatment planning, surgery, prosthetics, maintenance, and practice management.

"The Zimmer Institute is a core part of our strategy to educate clinicians on the most recent techniques and approaches, along with the safe and effective use of our products, to enhance their skills and confidence," said Harold Flynn, president. "We wanted to meet the needs of surgeons and clinicians at any experience level by providing a collaborative, dynamic learning environment with an exceptional level of clinical realism."

The Zimmer Institute was conceived in 2005, with the first Institute opening in Carlsbad, California, in 2006. This innovative program was a great success, with over 17 different universities participating in the continuing education courses at various times. A few years later, the first European Zimmer Institute opened in Winterthur, Switzerland, expanding this unique opportunity to a number of direct subsidiary and distributor markets throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The European program was based on a model similar to Carlsbad, in which leading educators from institutions in various countries came to teach classes in their languages.

With more than 17,000 dentists within a 2-hour drive, the greater New York/New Jersey location was a natural next step. "We realized that there were a great number of dentists on the east coast who would be interested in becoming educated about restorations or implant surgery," Flynn says. "Although I'm sure it's very nice for them to come out to San Diego, especially in the winter, they can't always make the trip or close their practices for that amount of time. And frankly, we were running out of capacity in Carlsbad-our classes were often full or oversubscribed."

The New Jersey location, which opened in April, encompasses more than 15,000 square feet, with the capacity to train more than 1,000 practitioners annually. The Institute is co-located at the site where Zimmer makes its unique material for the orthopedic industry-Trabecular Metal™, which is also being developed for use in implant dentistry. "We thought this proximity would be a good opportunity to educate people about the great materials that Zimmer provides," Flynn explains. "Also, this particular facility has cadaveric courses for orthopedic surgery; therefore, we can offer a very unique combination of cadaver courses along with our simulated patients."

A key component of the Institute is the proprietary Simulated Patient Training Laboratory, which allows participants to refine clinical skills through hands-on training with highly sophisticated mannequins simulating lifelike clinical situations. As Flynn explains, "Often times, the great university educators don't have the facilities or laboratory capabilities or the simulated patients necessary to teach intensive continuing education courses. We believed that there was a piece missing in the education process: Simulated Patient Education, by which a university can use a number of different patient models and scenarios, compressing cases that would normally take 6 months down to a day and demonstrating the entire procedure from start to finish."

To address this missing piece, Zimmer invested in patient mannequins, obtaining intellectual property rights on the models and their lifelike qualities. Universities can choose from seven different "patients"-with full physical histories, medications, CTs, and radiographs. These can be set up with different models and different cases to simulate working on actual patients. "The models have cortical and cancellous bone; students can perform regenerative procedures on them," Flynn says. "We even have a few models with bleeding mandibles, so that the clinician can start to think about blood management. We have courses in which surgeries are done in the morning, then the laboratory work and all of the healing happens over lunch time. Then, the models are set up again for the restorative aspects, so that the clinicians can understand the entire case.

"The feedback that we get is amazing-universally positive reviews on the experience," Flynn adds. "It takes a couple of hours for people to warm up to the simulated patient experience. But usually by the end of any session, we have to drag them out of the laboratory. They want to continue practicing techniques on the models and try some advanced procedures, because the experience is so lifelike. They really get into the process."

As envisioned by the director of the Institute, Fred Bell, DDS, MS, the Zimmer Institute encompasses two objectives. "First, it's an aegis underneath which we do all of our education efforts," Flynn explains. "But apart from that, it's an actual physical place of learning, focused on simulated patient practices and models in world-class, high-tech facilities.

"As we look at it, in dental implantology and the dental industry in general, much is expected of manufacturers and providers by way of education. We demonstrate our commitment by the level of investment we put in these training centers-multimillion dollar investments of capital and resources for the staffing and the ongoing expenses of the models-which in a way functions as an educational grant to the industry.

"At Zimmer, our mission is to alleviate pain, return mouth function, and improve quality of life for patients," Flynn says. "This Institute is another means by which we help the clinicians safely treat their patients-by making sure that they understand the surgical procedures, along with any tools, equipment, and products that we'll introduce in the future. In addition, we want to provide an enjoyable learning environment that they can really engage in, sharing ideas and best practices with a global network of colleagues. We really think that we can expand on these offerings and, working with teaching institutions and universities, continue to be pioneers in dental education."

For further information and course schedules, please visit http://www.zimmerdental.com.

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EDUCATION EXPANSION (1. and 2.) Representatives of Zimmer Dental celebrate the ribbon-cutting opening of the new Zimmer Institute. Bottom photo, left to right: Vincenzo D'Andraia (Lab Coordinator, Zimmer Institute); Ken Varner (Associate Director - Regional Education); Harold C. Flynn, Jr. (President, Zimmer Dental); Deborah Kincade (Director of Education); Toby Sexton (Associate Director - Regional Education); and Mary Carr (Associate Manager, Zimmer Institute). (3.) The new Institute offers cutting-edge education in a state-of-the-art facility.

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