How Simulation-based Training can Improve Men’s Health Outcomes

Gaps in Men’s Health Training

Over the last 100 years, advances in healthcare have significantly improved life expectancy for both men and women in the United States. However, life expectancy for women is five years higher than for men[1]. One reason for this gap is that men are less likely than women to seek regular medical care. This prevents doctors from diagnosing a life-threatening issue early, resulting in worse health outcomes and a higher risk for death[2].

Efforts to increase outreach and awareness about men’s health issues, especially for common ailments like testicular and prostate cancer, have stressed the importance of routine check-ups. Yet, medical students find learning intimate clinical examination skills and procedures like testicular and prostate exams challenging[3]. Moreover, there are limited opportunities for students to learn and practice intimate examinations in a supervised and safe environment[4].

Therefore, students and clinicians need tools to help them develop intimate examination skills, practice procedures, and be evaluated objectively on their performance. Simulation-based training can help students and clinicians gain confidence performing genital examinations and other men’s health procedures because it allows them to practice on the simulator first, decreasing anxiety about these intimate procedures before practicing them on real patients.

Improving safety in procedures specific to men’s health

According to the CDC, 15-25% of hospitalized patients receive urinary catheters during their stay. However, a urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common type of healthcare-associated infection, 75% of which result from a urinary catheter[5]. These infections can lead to longer hospital stays and worse patient outcomes, so clinicians need to comply with basic safety and infection control protocols.

While hand hygiene is key to reducing hospital-associated infections, as many as 78% of clinicians fail to comply with this basic safety and infection control measure[6]. Failures to comply are mostly accidental due to the stress and fast pace of their work. Therefore, it can be easy to forget to wash their hands before making contact with a patient.

Nevertheless, hand hygiene should be second nature to clinicians, like putting on a seatbelt after getting in a car. Developing these habits in healthcare students with simulation-based training would ensure safer patient care. Training programs can easily incorporate the CDC’s guidelines for preventing catheter-associated urinary tract infections into the curriculum by using a skill trainer like GAUMARD’s Advanced ZACK™.

Advanced ZACK’s lifelike anatomical features create an opportunity for students to learn and practice essential skills. Since students can use real equipment like a catheter and personal protective equipment (PPE) to practice urinary catheterization, educators can incorporate aseptic techniques before, during, and after the procedure.

Thus, students can be evaluated based on their ability to place a catheter and avoid contaminating themselves or the patient. If a breach in protocol is identified, students can continue to practice and develop their skills until safer behaviors become instinctual and carry over to real patient encounters.

Likewise, surgical skills like a no-scalpel vasectomy can be practiced and honed on ZACK. About 500,000 men have a vasectomy each year in the United States. A no-scalpel vasectomy is the preferred method since it results in less bleeding, a faster recovery, and five times fewer infections and other problems while being just as effective as a conventional vasectomy[7].

During traditional clinical hours, students would observe a trained clinician perform the procedure. However, ZACK allows educators to create an environment similar to an actual surgery room, incorporating surgical tools, PPE, and other equipment to enable students to work hands-on. This is important because adults learn best in active, experiential environments instead of didactic lectures.

ZACK allows students to think critically and make decisions as they become familiar with the procedure and the surgical tools. Mistakes facilitate discussion and reflection, so every simulated session is an opportunity to learn and hone their skills, ensuring students can perform the procedure safely before encountering real patients.

Using Simulation to Develop Intimate Clinical Skills

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in American males between the ages of 15 and 35[8]. Most doctors agree that a testicular exam should be part of a routine check-up[9]. Likewise, prostate and colorectal cancer, the second and third leading cause of death for men[10], are diagnosed with an intimate examination done during a check-up.

Students and clinicians need to be proficient in intimate examination skills. Detecting these ailments early significantly improves outcomes and the likelihood of survival for patients. However, the practical and ethical limitations of training on a live patient make acquiring competency difficult. For that reason, educators should use simulators and skill trainers to prevent gaps in knowledge and build provider confidence with these intimate procedures until they are ready for real patients.

Low-cost and portable skill trainers, like Advanced ZACK, can be easily incorporated into a training program. ZACK’s realistic features provide the visual and tactile feedback needed to immerse students in various clinical scenarios, meaning they can gain experience diagnosing pathologies that may never be encountered in traditional clinical training hours.

Students can go hands-on during intimate clinical procedures like a testicular or prostate exam and develop the specific psychomotor skills needed to identify malignancies. Testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and other ailments found in the testes and rectum can be subtle to detect in their early stage. Therefore, practicing this procedure on ZACK is an opportunity to hone skills in a safe and supervised environment before encountering real patients.

Students can apply what they have learned in the classroom to the skill trainer and receive feedback on their performance. Repeated practice builds proficiency and confidence as they acquire the experience needed to diagnose these malignancies. This ensures that patients receive an accurate early diagnosis, improving their short and long-term health outcomes.

Removing barriers to men’s healthcare procedure training

In conclusion, simulation-based training can help improve men’s health outcomes and close the gap in training that is a significant barrier to safe patient care. ZACK provides students with opportunities to learn and practice skills that could have been missed during traditional clinical hours. This prevents gaps in knowledge from developing, ensuring students are ready to enter the workforce.

Moreover, by incorporating infection control protocols into the scenarios, skills like proper hand hygiene become second nature to students. Ultimately, training with ZACK helps create highly competent clinicians able to keep patients and themselves safe and improve outcomes.

To learn about the WHO and CDC’s guidelines regarding infection control and prevention, please click on the links.

To learn more about GAUMARD’s Advanced ZACK™ or any of our men’s health skill trainers, please click the link.


[1] “Testicular cancer.” Mayo Clinic, 2021,

[2] Campbell, Leah. “Why So Many Men Avoid Going to the Doctor.” Healthline, Accessed 12 April 2021.

[3] Dabson, Andra M, et al. ” Medical students’ experiences learning intimate physical examination skills: a qualitative study.” BMC Medical Education, vol. 14, no. 29, 2014, pp. 14-39.

[4] Garrett, Sue, et al. “Genital examination training: assessing the effectiveness of an integrated female and male teaching programme.” BMC Medical Education, vol. 16, no. 299, 2016, pp. 1-8.

[5] “Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Oct. 2015,

[6] Hrustic, Alisa. “STUDY: 78% Of Health-Care Workers Don’t Properly Wash Their Hands.” Men’s Health, 15 July 2016, Accessed 20 April 2021.

[7] Roland, James. “Is a No-Scalpel Vasectomy Right for Me?.” Healthline, Accessed 19 April 2021.

[8] “Mars vs. Venus: The gender gap in health.” Harvard Health Publishing, 26 Aug. 2019,

[9] “Can Testicular Cancer Be Found Early?.” American Cancer Society, 17 May 2018,,during%20a%20routine%20check%2Dup.

[10] “Worldwide cancer data: Global cancer statistics for the most common cancers.” World Cancer Research Fund, 2018,,non%2Dmelanoma%20skin%20cancer).

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