Nursing Students Learn From Life-Like Manikins

August 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm
Reprinted from the Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 9:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 9:48 p.m.

Nursing students at the University of South Carolina Upstate showcased their upgraded simulation lab during an open house Thursday.

Among the human crowd of students and faculty at the event, there were also several life-like, anatomically correct manikins lying in hospital beds.

Some of the manikins inside the Mary Black School of Nursing Simulation Center for Teaching Excellence are men, some are babies, others, called “Sim Moms” are pregnant and can actually give birth. They all have simulated heartbeats, and they can all “die” if their diverse needs aren’t met.

“Patients nowadays are very complex,” said Margaret Hindman, assistant professor of nursing and director of the Joint Center for Nursing Research and Scholarships, “Simulations allow students to build confidence and familiarize themselves with these more complex situations.

Hillary Smith and Hanna Adams, 21-year-old senior students from Union, demonstrated the “Sim Mom” during the open house.

“I never got to see a baby born in the hospital, but here you can see it. This is the closest thing you can get to real life,” Hillary said over the steady beeping of the heart monitor attached to the manikin. “It really makes learning a lot easier.”

USC Upstate’s Mary Black School of Nursing has grown significantly in recent years. In 2008, the program moved from a smaller building on campus to a new 11,000-square-foot facility. This additional space allowed new growth from within. With grant money, the school was able to bring in state-of-the-art learning technology.

“We have expanded tremendously over the summer as far as equipment,” said Katharine Gibb, interim dean of the Mary Black School of Nursing. “Our main goal for this event was just to let people know how far we have come and what we have to offer; give us a chance to shine.”

Hindman said the Simulation Center for Teaching Excellence is designed to give nursing students the opportunity to practice in a safe environment and build confidence before they move into a clinical setting.

It lets students hone their skills in home care, clinical care and obstetrics by replicating clinical situations that nurses are faced with in real life. All of the simulations in the center are recorded, and students can review the videos from their dorm room to see which areas of patient care they need to practice and improve.

Gibb said that pilots and astronauts have been using simulation devices to learn their craft for years, and now the medical field is employing the same technique.

“When I went to school, we practiced on each other. But I can’t pretend to have cardiac arrest or deliver a baby,” she said. “With the simulators, we can have that experience. If the students don’t act as they should and there is a negative outcome, we haven’t hurt a patient. It has really improved education and enhanced their ability to transfer classroom learning into the clinical environment.”

One area of the simulation lab focuses on home care. It comes complete with furnishings found in a typical home, such as a double bed, dresser, rocking chair, family portraits and other comforts.

Hindman says home care is becoming an increasingly important part of nursing.

“Homes don’t have the same fancy medical equipment that you have in the hospital, so students have to learn how to deal with the home environment as well,” she said.

PHOTO: Hanna Adams, left, and Hillary Smith, both first semester seniors in the nursing program at USC Upstate, demonstrate how they monitor “Sim Mom” on Thursday during an open house at the Nursing Simulation Center at USC Upstate.