Nursing Students to Practice Clinical Skills with New High Tech Mannequin

Photo of Lisa Job working with SimMan

A nursing instructor, Lisa Job, assists student Marianne Cook (not pictured) in analyzing vital signs using the SimMan, an interactive mannequin that can be programmed with disease symptoms and various irregularities so that students can learn to identify and understand a variety of diseases and symptoms before coming in contact with real patients.The instructor is able to control the symptoms of the mannequin with a PDA that can be used as a remote control device for the SimMan.(View a larger image of Lisa Job, Miranne Cook and SimMan)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.

Aug. 18, 2006 – Nursing students at Southeast Missouri State University will have a new classmate when fall semester classes get under way next week.

“SimMan,” a new teaching and diagnostic tool, will give students a more realistic learning experience beginning this year in the Southeast Department of Nursing.

SimMan is a high-tech mannequin that simulates cardiac and respiratory irregularities, trauma and diseases while giving students the opportunity to practice critical thinking, symptom evaluation, procedure prioritization, diagnostic methodology and administration of treatment.

“This allows us to give students the opportunity to work with very realistic clinical situations in the safety of a lab,” said Dr. Gloria Green, interim chair of the Department of Nursing. “This allows students to practice their skills on SimMan before they actually do the skills on a human being.”

Green says SimMan gives students the chance to hone their clinical skills and lets faculty evaluate them on those skills before they enter the hospital setting.

“It’s a wonderful addition to the lab,” Green said. “We’re just really grateful to have had the funding to get it.”

Lisa Job, instructor of nursing at Southeast, says “SimMan’s features will support the students’ ability to reach the correct diagnosis based on active observation and direct, hands-on activities, as opposed to being prompted by instructor cues.”

The mannequin not only simulates critical emergency situations for nursing students, but also makes it possible for students to practice basic (but vital) skills, such as ventilating, checking blood pressure, listening to breath sounds, and checking for carotid pulses or airway complications.

While the Department of Nursing has had mannequins in the past, none have been as life-like as SimMan, which also has the capability of speech.

“You can watch him breathe and hear him cough,” Green said.

Not only can instructors program SimMan to have a heart attack or contract pneumonia, but they also can program the mannequin to cough, vomit, moan and otherwise simulate a real patient, allowing the student to gain on-the-spot experience, teaching them to think quick, Job says. 

The student’s ability to take action and make decisions can easily be reviewed by the instructor, since SimMan video-records everything. As students practice their clinical skills, SimMan records the nature and timing of student treatment responses on its event log, providing documented feedback to assist student learning.

Job says SimMan will be used in a variety of nursing courses, including “Clinical Skills,” “Assessment,” “Advanced Assessment,” and Southeast’s medical/surgical courses.

“It can be used at all different levels,” she said. “Hopefully, it will improve competency at all levels. Students are very technology oriented today, so students are going to like this.

“It’s like having a real patient in the lab,” Job said. “Students can feel like they have exposure to a patient without going into a hospital room. It’s really a nice piece of equipment. It’s really going to help students incorporate more critical thinking skills.”

Photo of student and instructor using SimMan

An instructor, Lisa Job, assists student Andy Files of Farmington Mo. in analyzing the vital signs of the SimMan that are displayed on the laptop connected to the mannequin. The simulator can be programmed by the instructor so that the studdents can learn to recognize a variety of diseases and symptoms prior to coming in contact with real patients.Because of this $25,000 investment, Southeast has access to technology that few other universities and hospitals posses for training.(View larger image of Lisa Job, Andy Files and SimMan)