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Bill Hammontree is no dummy, but he works with plenty every day at the UC Davis Health System. As the program manager for the Center for Virtual Care, he uses ultra-sophisticated mannequin patient simulators and surgical robots to train health care professionals.
Hammontree earned his registered nurse and emergency medical technician licenses, and then got a bachelor of science degree in nursing, but it did not happen overnight. “School took longer because I was learning so much in the field,” he says, in the U.S. Navy, as an emergency medical technician and on the hectic floor of an emergency room in a level-one trauma center. But school gave Hammontree the foundation on which to build and he is currently moving ahead with his dream of a post-graduate degree.
What is the most exciting part of your current job?
Hammontree had to think for a moment to narrow it down to even a few things. “Getting mannequins to mimic reality, making them behave like people,” he says, adding, “teaching others and sharing the experience with them is great.”
The patient simulators talk, breathe, blink their eyes and even have a heartbeat and pulse points. Med students and current health care professionals use them to practice skills from anesthesia to neonatal resuscitation and surgical techniques. Hammontree even takes a gowned mannequin to a hospital bed and calls a code blue, a critical event to which the hospital staff must fully respond.
Which classes were particularly helpful?
Pharmacology courses, especially because Hammontree had a great instructor. “He was so good at breaking down how medicines work. He really brought it home for me.” That background serves him well now, as the patient simulators are designed to respond to drug treatments.
Why are you applying for a master’s program now when you are already so successful?
Furthering his education can help “get a leg up to higher functions of management within the hospital,” says Hammontree. Advancing his career and education go hand in hand, even when the “hand” in question belongs to a state-of-the-art mannequin or robot.
Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.