Simulated Situations, Real Learning

They talk. They breathe. They give birth. But they are not alive.

Rather, they are high-fidelity manikins used in the Center for Technology-Enhanced Nursing, a cutting-edge simulation lab in Signe Skott Copper Hall. They manikins garner a lot of attention for their human-like behaviors, and they come as close as possible to functioning like real patients, right down to detailed health histories documenting previous office visits, hospitalizations and illnesses.

These lifelike manikins allow instructors to create realistic simulations, which enable students to safely test their knowledge while improving skills and confidence. With no risk to actual living individuals, these simulations are invaluable in supplementing traditional clinical rotations.

Of course, the manikins do not come programmed and ready to use right out of the box. Someone has to build the health history. Someone else has to program it into the manikin. All the details, such as symptoms and vital signs, are critical to the learning objectives. Anything arbitrary or incongruent would undermine the experience.

“In clinicals, students get to shadow a nurse. Here they get to be a nurse,” says Laurie Pirtle ’89, the School of Nursing’s simulation specialist. “As students, there is so much that they can’t do. Simulation gives them the opportunity to do it all.”