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Sunday, September 23, 2007

'Smart' dummy teaches BCC nursing students

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BCC receives two computerized medical simulators, which imitate real patients
By Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Article Last Updated: 09/20/2007 03:51:53 PM EDT

He's known as a SimMan, a computerized medical simulator that looks and feels like a real person, which nurses in training will use as their test patient.

"It sort of relieves students of those pre-clinical jitters," said Tom Carey, a professor in the college's Health Sciences Department.

The SimMan — who was referred to as Mr. Smith yesterday — uses audio and video simulation, managed by a lab technician, and can carry on a two-way conversation.

By using a video camera installed above the dummy's head, the technician can watch and use a remote control to respond with coughing and other respiratory mechanisms. The technician can also use a microphone to conduct conversations or simulate moans and groans when applicable.

The college was also able to acquire a female Sim, which can simulate prenatal sounds and movements.

Both mannequins, manufactured by the Laerdal Medical company, come with kits of fake blood and putty so that the technician can design wounds and other physical symptoms for the nursing students to address.

Elizabeth Kassel, the new director of nursing, demonstrated yesterday.

"Take a deep breath for me," she told Mr. Smith.

The SimMan took a couple of audible deep breaths.

"Is that good?" Mr. Smith asked Kassel.

The nurse nodded, encouraging the patient to continue.

Suddenly, the SimMan began making wheezing and coughing sounds.

"Oh. Breathing like that makes me cough," he said.

Jay Anderson, regional president of TD Banknorth, looked on.

"It's pretty impressive. Any time you've got a simulation in the classroom, it has got to be good for the students," he said.

The SimMan was purchased through a Banknorth donation of $15,000.

Kassel, who comes to the college as a former nursing educator for Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y., has previous experience teaching with Sim technology and said that it's a helpful teaching tool.

It tests students' abilities to think critically, she said.

"It's not just writing an answer on a test," she said.

A video recording of the student's interaction and reaction to the dummy is used as an assessment tool.

Anna Foss, assistant dean of nursing, health and social science, said that up to 100 nursing and license practical nursing students will come in contact with the Sim this semester.

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