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Nursing Students Utilizing High-Tech Mannequins

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
November 3, 2009

In an effort to give nursing and medical students more hands-on experience in a safe setting, hospitals and colleges throughout the country are increasingly training with high-tech mannequins which can, among other things, bleed, sweat and have a pulse.

Last week, the University of Phoenix unveiled its brand-new immersive learning nursing center which features mannequins that cry, talk, cough and breathe. The school invested more than $400,000 to renovate and equip the facility, which will be used in its nursing degree programs.

"What makes University of Phoenix's immersive learning environment different is that our nursing students are putting both their clinical and critical thinking skills to work," noted Pam Fuller, dean of the school's College of Nursing, who was quoted by Reuters. "In short, they are assessing a patient's condition, prioritizing their responsibilities and actions, communicating what needs to be done, and then acting on the conclusions they draw from the situation at hand."

Officials at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York, which recently opened a new Simulation Center for its residency training program, said that the new technology allows students to learn procedures such as inserting a central venous catheter line or performing laparoscopic surgery.

"The technology used in the Simulation Center is changing the face of medical education," said Dr. Benson Yeh, the hospital's chief academic officer, who was quoted in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. "Nearly all residency-level education used to take place in a traditional hospital setting. By creating a 'virtual' patient in a virtual clinical setting, we can provide residents and nurses with real-life scenarios and give them hands-on experience with procedures, laparoscopic techniques and cardiac arrest."

The St. Joseph News-Press reports that Highland Community College in Kansas recently purchased high-tech mannequins for its nursing programs, including two new SimMan simulators that have chest movements, breathing and bowel sounds, heartbeat and blood pressure. Instructors can even program the mannequins to show the appropriate symptoms of illnesses which are not often seen in patients.

Hospitals are also turning to the new technology to better train their medical staff. The Houston Chronicle reports that Texas Children's Hospital recently opened a Pediatric Simulation Center which aims to reduce medical errors that occur as the result of problems with teamwork, communication or leadership.

The new center includes three high-fidelity simulation theaters and five standardized patient training rooms, all with audio/video systems that record each exercise. The adult mannequin mothers, which can cost as much as $250,000, are so realistic that they cry out in labor and beg for an epidural.

Dr. Jennifer Arnold, medical director of the new center, said that the new technology is well worth its cost. "The striking thing is how well simulation centers work," she said. "What happens in simulation usually happens in real-life cases."

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