This archived article was written by: Ashley Stilson
It’s one thing to walk into a nursing lab and find a mannequin lying on a hospital bed. It’s a completely different thing when the mannequin begins to breath, blink and speak. Meet the Sim Man of the USU Eastern nursing lab, a simulation mannequin who, when he is turned on, makes for a much more realistic hospital scenario.
“This was just a storage room before,” Nichol King, director of nursing on USU Eastern campus, mentioned when she demonstrated the simulation lab. The room was completely renovated and dedicated to Emma Gunderson Scartezina who was the director of nursing at the Carbon Hospital during the 1940s. Her family and friends funded the renovation for the lab.
The mannequin, however, is the demanding feature in the room. In order to improve the nursing program, Utah State University provided funding for the simulation man, which cost about $110,000 without the technology for scenarios.
The Sim Man can perform all sorts of critical care situations. “We are using [the lab] at least two days during the week,” King said. “The mannequin can breathe. He can blink and his eyes react to light. I can change the breathing sounds and the heart sounds. [The students] can hear bowel sounds and feel pulses in his feet. It simulates an experience just like you’re in the hospital. The mannequin bleeds, sweats, it does everything.” Nursing students can practice their skills on a simulation that will mimic all the symptoms a human patient would experience.
“We have a wealth of scenarios,” King said. “They are scenarios with different objectives that meet the standard testing. So [the students] are able to build skills to go through.” King supervises the simulation lab. With the touch of a button, she can project her voice through the mannequin and give instructions and encouragement.
“The students work together as a team to see what they need to do to provide a better outcome for the patient,” King stated. The computer records the student’s progress, keeping a running tab of mistakes and successes. It records how long the students take until they act, how long until the medication takes effect.
The simulation lab was build because clinical sites are harder and harder to come by. “Castleview Hospital is really good to work with us,” King said. “[But] we can run a similar simulation when we’re running out of places to put our students…We can run more critical care scenarios that we might not have access to.” The lab also includes a touchscreen monitor that records information by the bedside, including heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. An IV stand and a shelf of care items completes the room.
Using the simulation room is usually reserved for second-year students. King explained, “Our first year students are learning some basic skills, but next semester they’ll be able to come in and be able to refine their assessment skills.” She can also video the simulation and during evaluation, the students can see what was done well and what mistakes were made. “I always end or start with ‘what is it that you did right?’ I want them to pick out those things they did very well. I want them to be aware of that first, before we jump to what could you do better.”
Another mannequin fills an adjacent simulation room, this one focusing more on the birthing simulation. There is a mother that gives birth to a little simulation baby. Nursing students can perform diagnostics on both the mother and the baby just as in a real situation. This lab hasn’t been used yet, as the setup took longer than expected.
“The best thing is seeing students recognize that not only do they have the skills to take care of a patient, but actually building that confidence within them that they can actually be a competent nurse,” King said. “They can recognize their strengths and their abilities to actually take care of someone who is having a problem.” She enjoys watching the students overcome their hesitancy to use the simulation and work together as a team. “Their only requests at the end of the day are how can we get more time in here? That’s been their one request.”
King thoroughly appreciates having access to the Sim Man. “With this mannequin for a teaching tool, you can do just about anything.”