If a patient is going to die, this is the place you would rather it happen.
The simulation lab in OSU Institute of Technology’s Nursing & Health Sciences Center is reminiscent of a hospital. There are hospital beds along the walls of the large room with patients in several of the beds.
But these patients don’t move or talk or even breathe unless they’re being controlled by the instructor.
The mannequins can be programmed to do everything from have a heart attack to a respiratory infection. Some of them can even sweat, bleed, blink or excrete a number of bodily fluids.
They can even talk— sort of. The instructor is in the adjacent room looking through a two-way mirror and can talk to the students through a microphone as the patient.
It’s all to teach nursing students how to work through and react to medical situations and emergencies in the safety of the lab and not for the first time in a real hospital.
“Simulations provide real-world incidents in a safe environment,” said Kathryn Bible, simulation lab coordinator. “It gets them ready for that setting.”
OSUIT’s Nursing program has seven regular simulation mannequins, two mid-fidelity mannequins and two high-fidelity mannequins.
“The high-fidelity ones have pupils that can dilate, have breath and bowel sounds, we can control their pulse and heart rates, control body fluids,” Bible said. “I try to make them look as real as possible so it’s easier for them to see them as real patients.”
Nursing students Rachel Wise and Chantis Cline said seeing the simulation mannequins as patients is pretty easy.
“They are real lifelike. They blink, they breathe, they bleed. It helps a lot,” Cline said. “You learn protocols for that situation, you learn medications for that situation. Then you know what you can do when you get in that room in real life.”
It’s already been useful to Wise.
“I was on my clinical rotation and thought back to what we did in the simulation lab and used that experience in a real life situation,” she said.
Things don’t always go smoothly for the students when treating a patient in the simulation lab.
“They want things to go wrong in here; they want us to hit a wall,” Wise said.
And that’s exactly what is supposed to happen, Bible said.
“You want them to have to think through what’s going on. Is there something else I need to be doing, is there something I missed?” she said. “Then use their clinical judgement to make sure the patient is getting the best care they should.”
Using simulation labs and simulation mannequins as teaching tools seems to only be growing as technology advances.
“They just keep getting better and better,” Bible said.
“Simulation labs are the future. It’s just going to improve,” she said. “They’re going to add things and change things to make them even more lifelike.”