Nursing Simulation Lab Trains Students in Patient Care

By Ed Moorhouse

Sophomore nursing student Tabitha Summers listens to a simulation manikin's heartbeat.

Sophomore nursing student Tabitha Summers listens to a simulation manikin’s heartbeat.

New state-of-the-art, innovative clinical simulation technology is bringing nursing students at Rutgers University–Camden to the cutting edge of nursing education.

The students are being trained on 10 new “high fidelity” patient simulator manikins that breathe, have a pulse, and manifest symptoms as if they were real people. By working on the manikins — which are manufactured by Laerdal Medical — students can learn to detect and treat health problems while the lifelike simulators respond to treatment.

“We use simulation as an educational tool that allows our students to have active participation in simulated scenarios that they would not be able to receive in a clinical setting,” says Robert Scoloveno, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden. “These range from acute situations, such as a heart attack, to situations as simple as communication with a patient.”

“This gives our students a full simulation learning laboratory that further positions Rutgers–Camden as a leader in nursing education in New Jersey and allows us to better prepare our students and enhance their learning experience.”

The new technology was funded through a state Educational Leadership Foundation (ELF) grant awarded to Rutgers–Camden. It includes two adult male manikins (known as SimMan 3G); two adult females that have the ability to simulate childbirth (SimMom); two pediatric manikins that simulate children aged 5 to 8 years (SimJunior); two nine-month-old baby manikins (SimBaby); and two newborn baby manikins that work in concert with the adult females (SimNewB).

The simulators offer virtual feedback using computers that regulate vital signs and are programmable so that they can even talk to students. Rutgers–Camden faculty can use a pre-recorded voice function or speak live into a microphone so that the manikins can describe their symptoms.

It gives students real-life experience without having to work with real patients.

“The manikins allow us to standardize the experience so that every student has the same experience,” Scoloveno says. “That way, we can measure outcomes for each student based on the same scenario in the same, controlled environment.”

He continues, “In the clinical environment, it’s hard to standardize these experiences. The simulators create a safe learning atmosphere so that students can practice any nursing skill, such as medication distribution, CPR, or baby delivery.”

Even if a student makes a mistake, the manikins will respond to the error.

“The students have to make decisions on their own and as they would in a real-life setting,” Scoloveno says. “If they make a mistake, our faculty can give them feedback so that they learn from those mistakes.”

Scoloveno says the technology is a necessary learning tool that gives students the experience that they need to feel confident and ready to care for patients.

“By using the technology that is available to us, we can provide a state-of-the-art education to our students and add a necessary component to their education to better prepare them to enter the nursing profession,” he says.

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