WSU/USU Cooperative Nursing Simulation Lab


Gift to WSU/USU Cooperative Nursing Program
Offers New Learning Opportunities

Bamberger Foundation provides human simulator for clinical teaching

"I can’t breathe and my chest hurts,” gasps the hospital patient as he begins to cough.

A nurse steps into action to alleviate his distress and immediately contacts the physician.

With hospital personnel swiftly and calmly following an orchestrated set of procedures, the patient’s breathing steadies as his chest rhythmically rises and falls.

Another crisis averted but, in this case, the patient isn’t real.

“He breathes, he talks, he coughs, his heart beats and his body simulates a variety of physical conditions,” says Jon Kelly, USU’s campus coordinator for the Weber State University/Utah State University Cooperative Nursing Program.

Students in the program are experiencing hands-on learning opportunities in a challenging yet safe environment thanks to a gift from Utah’s Ruth Eleanor Bamberger and John Ernest Bamberger Memorial Foundation. The philanthropic organization recently gifted the health professions program with a patient simulator called “SimMan” – short for “simulated man” – manufactured by Laerdal Medical.

USU alum Gordon Christensen, DDS, ’56, provided additional funding to prepare the teaching space for the simulator and provide a realistic clinical setting.

Simulators have been used in training, especially flight simulation training, since World War I, Kelly says. “Simulation has provided great training success in high-risk situations,” he says. “It’s finally reaching health care where it’s having a huge impact on how we train medical professionals.”

Though USU’s simulator somewhat resembles a CPR dummy with its vacant, open-mouthed stare, its capabilities are much more complex.

“We can program SimMan with a variety of case scenarios and instantly expose students to training situations that they might never get in conventional clinical training,” says Jody Reese, assistant professor. “This gives students a chance to thoroughly evaluate patients, develop critical thinking skills and practice procedures repeatedly – all without the risk of hurting a patient.”

SimMan is equipped to allow students to practice taking vital signs, giving injections and starting IVs, monitoring blood pressure, managing a patient’s airway, providing nursing care for patients with chest tubes and more. As students conduct these procedures, SimMan reacts to their interventions.

“In preparation for real clinical settings, students need opportunities to practice their skills and build confidence,” Reese says. “The simulator provides immediate feedback and a chance for students to correct errors. A mistake on a simulator reveals a problem but it doesn’t result in tragedy.”

 Second year nursing student Elise Reeder says the simulator is a great learning tool. “When I first starting working in an actual medical setting I was afraid I was going to hurt my patients,” she says. “I think being able to practice on a simulator makes sense. I feel better going into a real situation and knowing exactly what to do.”

The field of nursing has come a long way in the past century, Reese says. Simulation, he adds, has only been used in nursing training for about the past 10 years.

“Nursing used to be a very task-oriented profession but today’s nurses are truly patient advocates and take a more integrated, interdisciplinary approach to patient care,” he says. “The ultimate goal is to return the person to healthy living and, in the case of terminal illness, allow that person to die with dignity.”

Nursing is a process, Reese says. “That’s why the simulator is so important to our training. It helps students approach problems, hone their skills, evaluate their actions and think about the big picture.”

Source: Muffoletto, M. (Ed.). (2008, Winter). Nursing Program Gift Offers Hands-on Learning Opportunities. INSIGHTS: Utah State University - College of Science.