New human-like mannequin comes to BYU College of Nursing


The BYU College of Nursing received a new computerized patient for its nursing simulation lab this semester.

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The new mannequin being programmed by nursing staff. Courtesy Jeff Peery

Debra Wing, assistant coordinator for the nursing learning center and simulation lab, explained the functions and capabilities the lifelike mannequin performs.

This new physiologically modeled, computerized mannequin can be programmed to simulate a variety of health conditions ranging from allergic reactions, pneumonia, heart conditions and more. It even has a pulse, a heartbeat and respirations.

“He is a great asset for the college,” Wing said. “We have been using high-fidelity simulation for over 10 years now.”

However, the previous mannequin, named Sam, developed computer problems and needed replacing. According to faculty and students in the college, the new mannequin came just in time.

Its capabilities are more impressive; it has newer operating software and is less difficult to operate for those with limited computer experience, Wing added.

The simulation learning lab is designed to resemble a hospital room so students can experience patient care in context.

“Students can apply what they learn in the classroom directly and in a safe environment,” Wing said.

Shelby Miller, a senior in the nursing program from Draper, said her experiences are “invaluable.”

“The simulation lab is a very structured, professional place. Faculty and students take these learning experiences very seriously because we know that one day, the simulations that are practiced will occur. When they do, we’ll need to know how to handle them,” Miller said.

Wing explained that the mannequin can model basically any human function in a realistic manner. The mannequin, however, does not sweat or have skin discoloration.

“He oftentimes will wear wigs, have facial hair, tattoos or glasses to make the patient scenarios different,” Wing said. When simulating a gastrointestinal bleed, personnel even use a perfume on the mannequin to resemble smells. “The use of all of the senses recalls memory,” she said.

Students are responsible to respond appropriately to any condition the professors program the mannequin to perform. “It is helpful to have patients with real situations,” said Maggie Strike, a senior nursing student from Cincinnati. “You definitely feel the pressure.”

Nursing students are sent in teams to assess the patient as they would on the hospital floor. The professors act as moderators and can even make the mannequin talk to the students as they help him.

Cami Tranter, a senior nursing student from Sandy, said, “It is really similar to hospital situations. You collaborate and learn to work as a team.”

The mannequin is not used for student testing, only for learning opportunities, both positive and negative. Wing said they debrief after each simulation to discuss the errors and how they can be corrected in the future. Positive actions are also acknowledged and discussed in groups.

“You realize how you need to prioritize and double check,” Strike said. “It is really helpful to go through.”

Tranter describes her experiences with the mannequin as realistic and emotional. “You can care for it like a human. When it dies because you didn’t know what medications to use, you want to cry,” she said. “Sometimes you walk out of the lab stressed, other times relieved.”

Students are first introduced to this resource in pre-nursing courses.

“We want to run them through a small experience to give the students a taste of what it’s like,” Wing said. As the semesters progress, the fidelity level of simulation increases and becomes more intense.

The $48,000 mannequin is kept busy through the semester. “He is used extensively,” Wing said. “He will average about 200–300 hours each semester.”

The nursing program and students said they feel blessed to learn in such an environment.

“We feel really grateful as students to have this learning resource; we do realize that they are very expensive and require a lot of time and energy to keep them running efficiently,” Miller added.

The new mannequin is one of four in the lab. The faculty is currently planning a contest to choose a name for the human-like simulator.

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