CVL sims hone skills, build confidence

Published by Frank Ruggiero on

From left, interventional radiology APPs David Gilmore and Christina Clay and UAB Clinical Simulation procedural simulation director Lisa Bergman participate in a CVL insertion simulation. 

When lives are on the line, training and practice are vital.

This is literally the case when it comes to central venous line (CVL) insertions, and UAB Clinical Simulation is here to help.

Christina Clay is a physician assistant with UAB Medicine’s Interventional Radiology program. Although placing lines is an everyday procedure in her department, Clay’s team regularly undergoes training to keep their skills honed and confidence solid.

Enter UAB Clinical Simulation’s procedural simulation team, whose comprehensive approach to CVL training includes live, in-person simulation sessions, a CVL learning module available through UAB Medicine’s online learning system and training courses for sim instructors, all of which were developed in partnership with UAB Medicine’s CVL Training Task Force.

CVLs are employed when patients require a substantial amount of fluid, certain caustic medications, close monitoring or continuous dialysis procedures, explained Lisa Bergman, director of procedural simulation. The procedure sees a line inserted into large central vein, typically in the neck, chest or groin. Because of the location of the lines and insertion into central circulation, the risks for such complications as infection, bleeding and pneumothorax are high for this procedure. Simulation-based training reduces the likelihood of these complications. 

Through Clinical Simulation, learners have the opportunity to practice the procedure on manikins and trainers, including the use of ultrasound for needle guidance. 

“The fact that we’re able to practice on manikins helps build my confidence in placing CVLs,” Clay said.  

Advanced practice providers (APP) like Clay use simulation in multiple ways—initial learning, continued practice and to meet the rigorous credentialing and training requirements of both UAB Medicine and their governing/accrediting body. 

“What we want for our learners is truly high-quality, readily accessible training and practice,” Bergman said. “Maybe there’s something they need help with, or maybe they’re just fine and we can offer some pointers to make them even safer. But if you’re interested and are an APP, please reach out to your lead and have them email us.” 

To drop a line to UAB Clinical Simulation, simply email


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