In the Land of Simulation…


“Good morning, Mrs. Jones, how are you feeling today?”

USG’s Building I is the home of eight nursing simulation labs. Why are simulation labs important? In the words of UMSON Dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, “Clinical simulation allows students to gain experience through participating in highly realistic case scenarios under faculty supervision.” She continued saying such experience “builds competency and confidence without the potential for compromising patients’ safety.” In other words, wouldn’t you rather I learn to insert a catheter on a manikin (not a typo, that’s just how it’s spelled in simulation land) first before I perform one on you? I knew you’d agree.


Waiting patiently for a blood pressure reading.

On first glance (especially at night), the lab may look like the Mattel Haunted Hospital (“Syringes sold separately!”), but these “patients” are vital to our nursing education. Nicole E. Smith, MS, RN, CNE, CHSE, Clinical Instructor and Clinical Simulation Lab Coordinator at Shady Grove, says, “Students learn how to give bed baths, obtain a blood pressure, insert urethral catheters, care for multiple patients at one time, and resuscitate a patient after a cardiac or respiratory event among many other skills. One of our high fidelity manikins can sweat, bleed, talk, and respond physiologically to various nursing interventions.”

Most of the nursing instructors at Shady Grove did not learn their nursing skills on manikins. Smith says that students used to give injections into an orange and learned many other nursing skills at an actual patient’s bedside. Mary Pat Ulicny, MS, MHA, RN, CNE, Clinical Instructor and Clinical Simulation Lab Director at Shady Grove (and who also happens to be my academic advisor), adds, “One of the manikins has the ability to recognize medication dose and type as well as the ability to read how fast a medication is being given and can then physiologically respond to this intervention in a realistic way. It is all done through bar code recognition. That is an amazing feature to me.” I think we’ve come a long way from practicing on citrus fruit…


Manikins come in all sizes!

Ulicny also shared a bit about why simulation is so important to the nursing process. “The simulation experience allows students to have an interactive, experiential encounter that mimics the real-life clinical setting where skills are completed, but also clinical judgment and reasoning are emphasized during the simulated learning encounter.” And learning in the labs is just the beginning. Once we demonstrate proficiency on a certain skill, we can perform that skill in our clinical rotations at local hospitals (on real live patients!), under our clinical instructor’s watchful eye, of course. Most patients are receptive to being a part of the learning process. Although one of my patients looked a little apprehensive and after I gave him the choice, chose to have the RN do his injection. The bottom line is that we want all patients to feel as comfortable as possible—another skill we learn during simulation.

So I hope I have assuaged any fears you may have about the “Manikins in Building I” and they don’t seem so scary anymore. But because it’s right before Halloween, I wanted to share something truly scary. Guess who will be attending her 35th high school reunion October 28? Me, that’s who. Now, that is truly frightening…Yikes!

Reunion Banner 1982


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