Talking mannequins? BYU’s new Nursing Learning Center is full of them

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Rex Rawlinson cuts the ribbon for the formal opening of the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center. (Elliot Miller)
Rex Rawlinson cuts the ribbon for the formal opening of the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center. (Elliot Miller)

A new Nursing Learning Center is complete after four months of remodeling and construction in the lower level of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower. BYU College of Nursing Dean Patricia Ravert thanked the Fritz B. Burns Foundation for generously funding the expansion at the ribbon-cutting celebration Aug. 5.

Rex J. Rawlinson and Burns Foundation trustee members attended, along with BYU College of Nursing students, faculty, staff and alumni. The new facility was named after Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen, an early 1900s nursing leader in Utah.

Open house tours showcased cutting-edge technology.

“(The new technology) expands opportunity for students to be recorded and evaluated on performance,” said Jeff Peery, the College of Nursing public relations specialist.

The Nursing Learning Center, commonly referred to as the NLC, is now equipped with video cameras in every room to record students during procedures. The rooms are soundproof, so students can work without distractions and view the recording of their session afterward to receive more effective feedback.

“All equipment is new,” said Taylor Dougger, a tour guide for the open house following the ribbon cutting. Dougger works at the NLC circulation desk and is a senior majoring in human development.

The new Nursing Learning Center lab now houses six flu-simulation experience rooms with high-fidelity mannequins. The mannequins' blood pressure and heart rate will respond to different treatments given by nurses. (BYU Photo)
The new Nursing Learning Center lab now houses six flu-simulation experience rooms with high-fidelity mannequins. The mannequins’ blood pressure and heart rate will respond to different treatments given by nurses. (BYU Photo)

The cameras are connected to TV screens inside the room to let students see instructors model procedures even if they are not sitting front and center. Some classrooms conveniently split into two or four smaller rooms with divider walls that descend from the ceiling.

Debriefing rooms with iPads connected to TV screens are located throughout the NLC for teaching and studying purposes. The NLC has a brand-new computer lab, a circulation desk where nursing students can check out books and an open lab where students practice giving IVs or drawing blood from mannequins.

Multiple simulation rooms throughout the NLC feature high-fidelity mannequins. They have lifelike capabilities to breathe, blink and speak. The mannequins can even produce a heartbeat and display symptoms of anaphylactic shock with tongue swelling.

The birth simulation room features a mannequin named Noel along with her mannequin baby.

“Students experience a normal, uncomplicated birth,” said Crystal Jensen, a capstone student and second-year nursing teacher’s assistant.

But the maternal mannequin also has the ability to imitate hemorrhaging.

The control room allows faculty members to pre-record mannequin noises or speech. Live microphone capability to transmit mannequin speech provides nursing students with lifelike reactions they might receive from human patients.

“All the data, video, audio and the mannequins can be controlled in one area,” Peery said.

Nursing students will now have a more realistic, hands-on experience.

Tiny details crown the NLC expansion with careful consideration. Night lights placed in simulation rooms train nursing students to mind small comforts for patients. Beautifully-framed pictures from nursing school service trips celebrate BYU’s nursing program on the NLC walls.

The expansion of the NLC means more classes and more space for nursing students, hands-on experience and effective feedback. A smooth launch into the 2015 winter semester is expected as nursing students learn to use the new technology this semester.

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