Manikins simulate real-life medical scenarios

Center for Simulation Innovation uses simulators for training

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter, Bill Caldera - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - A simulated birth by a high-tech female manikin may sound far-fetched, but it helps students at the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing know what to expect in real life.

James Cleveland, Ph.D., director of the school’s Center for Simulation Innovation, said simulators -- including one that looks, sounds and feels like a real newborn baby are valuable training tools. 

Cleveland said using simulation manikins helps provide students “a safe place to make mistakes.”

“Here they can be primary players. They can get used to that stress response and have that hand-over- hand experience,” Cleveland said. “That really builds confidence, skills and ultimately can save lives.”

Julie Guerra, who is about to graduate from nursing school, said thanks to a variety of simulators and scenarios, “I am stronger and more able to provide better care to my patients.”

During their first semester in nursing school, students use simulators, Cleveland said.

“After that, they begin to do some patient care,” he said.

The more experience, the more challenging simulation scenarios become, Cleveland said.

Cleveland said before simulators, he recalls students used “oranges” to practice their intravenous skills.

Lou Ann Click, simulation support manager, said that when she studied nursing in the U.S. Army, “We did a lot of this on each other.”

Click said her first simulator was in the Army.

“I taught soldiers how to fire an M16 downrange,” Click said.

She said the simulation manikins are now used for a wide variety of medical scenarios, however, “They don’t get up and clean up after themselves, which would be nice.”

Other uses for simulation manikins: 

Trauma center – modeled after University Health System’s facility; includes two trauma exam rooms and one trauma emergency care room

Medical/surgical unit – constructed as a replica of new construction at University Hospital

Intensive care unit – constructed as a replica of new construction at University Hospital

Home health center – designed as an efficiency apartment to demonstrate to students the importance of care provided in homes

Multi-bed educational center – a four-bed medical/surgical unit where students will experience the dynamic environment of practicing on the floor of the hospital; allows medical teams to manage multiple patients at once; each room is equipped with specialty hospital beds and high-fidelity mannequins

Maternal/child center – two mother-baby birthing suites, where students will experience the care of mother and baby from labor and delivery to post-partum care

Pediatric care suite – includes three infant cribs, one child’s bed and four high-fidelity mannequins

Ambulatory care suite – four treatment sites where students will experience the clinical environment of an ambulatory center

Additional information provided by UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing 

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