Gone are the days when nursing students practiced giving injections by using a syringe on an orange. Now with the help of human facsimiles known as simulators or mannequins, students can have a much more true-to-life experience. And with the most advanced simulators—known as high-fidelity mannequins—the experience can go far beyond performing injections. Students can practice giving IV fluids, checking heart and lung sounds, inserting a catheter into a bladder, even responding to a cardiac arrest or helping deliver a baby.
Wilson College celebrated the arrival of its first high-fidelity mannequin—purchased with a $110,000 gift from Summit Health today in the college’s state-of-the-art simulation center located in the nursing skills lab, also known as the nursing resource center. Summit and Wilson officials, nursing students and invited guests including State Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-90), gathered in the lab for a demonstration of the high-tech mannequin known as Lucina.
“She’s the closest thing to a real person,” said Carolyn Hart, director of Wilson’s nursing program. “When she’s lying in that bed, she’s actually breathing. She’s actually blinking. You can check a blood pressure. She has a heart rhythm that will show up on the monitor. She’s got heart sounds, lung sounds, belly sounds. You can start an IV and have IV fluids flowing into her. You can put a catheter into her bladder and drain urine.”
But Lucina’s capabilities don’t end there. She “talks”—with the help of a person in a control room. She can vomit and have seizures. Her pupils work. She can actually give birth. And today, college nursing staff used Lucina to demonstrate a life-threatening cardiac event. The patient survived.
Students in Wilson’s accredited nursing program will use Lucina, as well as the college’s 10 medium-fidelity mannequins—which have many of the same capabilities of Lucina but are not as advanced—and five low-fidelity mannequins to practice their skills in predetermined scenarios designed to allow them to safely perform procedures and interact with a lifelike simulator before working with human patients.
“Having simulation really allows students to practice in a safe environment,” said Hart, a nursing educator who is also a registered nurse. “You can make a mistake with a mannequin and it’s OK. Your mannequin can die—that’s OK. We learn best from our mistakes, so simulation gives us a time for students to make mistakes and learn from them. Simulation really allows students to practice everything before they go out and work in the clinical setting with real people."
Kauffman, Hart and Wilson President Barbara K. Mistick made remarks at today’s gathering, focusing on the value of Wilson’s nursing program and its partnership with Summit to the community. “It’s great to see nurses being educated right here in our community to serve the people of this community,” said Kauffman.
“Our goal is to change the shape of nursing in Franklin County with the help of Summit Health,” Hart said of Wilson’s young nursing program, which began in fall 2014 and is the college’s fastest-growing program. This fall, 187 students are enrolled across five degree options, including bachelor and master of science degrees in nursing (BSN and MSN), an RN-to-BSN, RN-to-MSN and its newest program, LPN-to-BSN for Licensed Practical Nurses who want to take their education to the next level. The program is distinctive in that it focuses on teaching students not only practical skills, but also how to effectively manage the emotional and educational needs of patients and their families.
Wilson’s young nursing program, which began in fall 2014, is the college’s fastest-growing program, with 187 students enrolled across five degree options, including bachelor and master of science degrees in nursing (BSN and MSN), an RN-to-BSN, RN-to-MSN and its newest program, LPN-to-BSN for Licensed Practical Nurses who want to take their education to the next level. The program is distinctive in that it focuses on teaching students not only practical skills, but also how to effectively manage the emotional and educational needs of patients and their families.
Wilson’s nursing program works closely with a number of community partners, including Summit Health, Keystone Health and Menno Haven Retirement Communities, which allow Wilson students to work with their patients or residents to practice clinical skills. At Chambersburg Hospital, an affiliate of Summit Health, Wilson nursing students work alongside nurses during a shift, functioning in the role of a professional registered nurse.
Summit and Wilson work so closely that in the case of Summit Health’s $110,000 contribution allowing Wilson to buy Lucina, it was Summit that started the conversation. “They actually came to us and asked what they could do to help support nursing program,” said Hart, who estimates that about 80 percent of the students in Wilson’s MSN program work for Summit Health.
“I don’t think there’s any way I could fully express my gratitude,” Hart said. “This was a huge investment on their part and I think it does show confidence in our program. It’s a very wide-reaching gift.”
Hart meets monthly with Summit Health Senior Vice President of Hospital Services Sherri Stahl and discusses clinical needs in nursing education to make sure Wilson’s program is meeting the expectations of employers.
“We highly value our relationship with Wilson College and have the highest regard for the quality education they provide nursing students,” Stahl said. “This donation is an investment in the future of nursing in our community and we are proud to be a part of this opportunity to support the future health and well-being of the people of Franklin County.”
Lucina, purchased from and installed by CAE Healthcare, and all of the mannequins are wirelessly connected to a computer system. A control room and cameras in the nursing resource center allow students’ interaction with the mannequins to be monitored and feedback to be given in real time, as if the mannequins were human beings.
By far the most advanced, Lucina has three different abdomens that can be used: a normal abdomen, a pregnant abdomen and an abdomen of a woman who has recently given birth. “We bought a birthing bed and we have a baby warmer so when the baby’s delivered, the students can actually take the baby over to the warmer—just like you would do in real life,” Hart said.
Lucina resides on the first floor of the college nursing resource center, along with five medium-fidelity mannequins—a combination of male and female “patients,” all with cardiac monitors—which make up a fully functioning intensive care unit. “It will feel like walking into an actual intensive care unit,” Hart said. Upstairs, five other medium-fidelity mannequins make up a five-bed subacute care unit, where students can practice bedside rounds.
Using the cutting-edge simulators gives nursing students an edge that students of the past did not have, according to Hart. “Nursing is a very complicated and intense profession because we not only need excellent skills in the science of nursing, we also need excellent skills in the art of nursing,” said Hart. “It’s not enough to know what to do. You have to know how to work with a patient and a family.”
Hart hopes to bring students from other Wilson programs, such as those studying Spanish, to the simulation lab, where they can play the role of a Spanish-speaking patient or family. Those sorts of real-life scenarios can prove invaluable for students, who can be videotaped and later watch themselves and how they handled a variety of situations.
“Being a liberal arts college helps,” Hart said. “We could bring students that are taking a clinical psych course down and roll out a scenario that involves them. I can probably involve any of our humanities and liberal arts people. Certainly any ethics class could come down and be involved in a scenario. There are just a lot of possibilities for interdisciplinary education with simulation.”
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