Simulators transform how students learn

At UM’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, simulation is the way of the future.

Nursing students now have the opportunity to use one of 17 human simulators in order to better practice the theories they learn in the classroom.

Simulators are transforming the way student nurses are trained by allowing them to learn how to catheterize a patient, hook up an IV line, care for a patient with an amputated leg and even help deliver a baby in distress before even going into the clinical setting.

The School of Nursing and Health Studies will soon receive its newest simulator, the Human Patient Simulator (HPS), which can blink, breathe, convulse and go into full cardiac arrest. Among various other unique features, the HPS is the only patient simulator with the ability to provide respiratory gas exchange, anesthesia delivery and full patient monitoring with real physiological clinical monitors.

“We have the technology with our simulation program and HPS to replicate just about anything that can go wrong during patient care,” Jordan Halasz, technical director of simulation services at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, told Heartbeat Magazine.

Other simulators available at the School of Nursing and Health Studies include Sim Man 3G and Baby Hal, an infant patient simulator. Sim Man, for instance, can breathe, cry, sweat, register a pulse, catch a cold, and bleed. Two of the school’s other simulators are able to give birth to babies that can coo, turn blue or exhibit a host of other emotions.

This is a valuable experience for nursing students because it prevents inadequate training, which is recognized as one of the contributing factors to why medial errors occur. According to the ground breaking report “To Err is Human” by the Institute of Medicine in 1999, 98,000 Americans die each year from medical factors; 70 percent of these errors can be attributed to “human factors.” Using simulators allows educators to identify potential training issues in the lab before students ever provide actual patient care.

Through simulation, students can quickly learn from their errors without first harming a real patient. Training sessions are videotaped and observed by instructors and other students in a separate room to aid the teaching process. Then, teams are debriefed after their shifts end in order to learn what they did wrong and where they can improve.

“We allow students to make the errors in the lab and make certain they learn from their mistakes,” Halasz said. “The bottom line is utilizing education to reduce medical errors and save lives.”