New technology gives nursing students hands-on experiences

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Emily Graham, a nursing major, practices on a mannequin in the Nursing  Learning Center on campus. (Maddi Driggs)

The BYU College of Nursing’s learning center continues to help students get a practical demonstration of concepts they learn in class as new technology is introduced to the lab.

The Nursing Learning Center was remodeled one year ago and is located in the bottom of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower. The learning center simulates different medical environments nurses will work in, offering the chance to simulate a hospital room with multiple patients or an exam room that looks like a family practitioner’s office.

The learning center’s remodel also includes new high-fidelity mannequins. These high-fidelity mannequins have heartbeats, can talk and simulate symptoms nurses deal with in the real world. These mannequins can give students hands-on experience before they treat real patients.

And students have clearly been taking advantage of this new lab. Students worked in the lab on different procedures 7,112 times during Fall Semester. Students logged almost 11,000 hours practicing procedures. There are about 380 students in the nursing program, so at any given time there are many students working in the different labs.

Dean of Nursing Patricia Ravert said students have been very busy throughout the past semester.

“Both the walk-in lab and the scheduled clinical labs are being used more than ever,” Ravert said. “Students are using the labs twice as much as they were nine years ago. The labs after the remodel are more convenient for students to use and they want to be able to get as much time to practice as they can.”

A new birthing mannequin was recently introduced to the learning center and has performed multiple births. The birthing mannequin, affectionately named Lucina, can perform many different kinds of births so students can practice how to handle birthing complications such as breech births and postpartum hemorrhaging.

Vanessa Fisher, a senior in the undergraduate nursing program, said her experience with Lucina has helped her practice skills she learned in the classroom.

“The new birthing mannequin is cool,” Fisher said. “You can actually measure and feel the cervical dilation, which is really nice.”

These mannequins also come with the technology so students can watch themselves perform procedures with classmates and instructors. Students working in the control room can provide the voice of patients and can match the age and gender of the mannequins their peers are using.

Assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker explained how the voice box technology worked.

“We turn on the voice box and we can mess with the pitch,” Hunsaker said. “Students can have pediatric voices, as well as change gender. When they use the voice box for the first time, they freak out a little bit because it’s weird not to hear your own voice come out of the mannequin.”

As more nursing students use the revamped lab, Ravert said she sees how much students use and love the lab.

“The labs give them hands-on experience while they practice clinical judgment and practice care safely in a controlled environment,” Ravert said. “They can practice skills here so they feel confident performing these procedures on real patients during their clinical work.”

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