Life-size simulation mannequins that can breathe, blink and perspire are helping train new staff members at Pullman Regional Hospital and students at the WSU College of Nursing.
Clinical educator Donna Haynes said the hospital currently owns two of the mannequins, a SIM man and SIM baby. Hospital workers use the mannequins to improve their confidence without the risk of working on a live patient.
“They function and have capabilities similar to a human being,” Haynes said. Darren Zemanek
The mannequins have heart, respiratory and bowel functions as well as the ability to respond to drugs. The simulated patients are life-like and have all the physiological features of a human, she said. SIM man and SIM baby can cry, perspire and blink. Their eyes respond to light and the mannequins can simulate real-life health issues, such as having a heart attack or seizure. She said they also have the ability to talk and vomit.
“The use of simulation will also provide an opportunity to develop critical thinking skills for problem-solving issues and questions that may have gone otherwise unanswered,” Haynes said.
The hospital has had SIM man for about three years and SIM baby for one, she said. The funding for the mannequins came from the hospital, the Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) Empire Health Foundation and the Avista Foundation.
“We’re currently hoping to get grant money to purchase SIM mom,” she said.
SIM mom would be used to help train hospital workers in high-risk pregnancy situations.
In addition to providing training for the hospital staff, the mannequins are used by Walla Walla and Lewis-Clark State College’s nursing programs to provide nursing students an opportunity to work in a simulation setting, she said.
For the first time this spring, the hospital will be pairing with the WWAMI medical program to offer simulation training for first-year medical students, she said. The WWAMI program allows students from five states, including Washington, to pay in-state tuition within any of the partner states.
Dr. Linda Fern, a Pullman internal medicine physician, is working with Haynes to create simulations that will incorporate the skills first-year medical students learn and give the students a chance to use their knowledge in a near-to-life situation.
Because the WSU College of Nursing is located in Spokane and cannot access Pullman Regional Hospital, they have their own simulation lab for students to use.
Kevin Stevens, simulation program director for WSU’s College of Nursing, said the Spokane campus’ simulation lab has several different mannequins.
The lab purchased SIM man 3G, a high-fidelity wireless mannequin, in 2010, Stevens said. SIM man 3G has the same human-like functions as the SIM man at Pullman Regional Hospital, but also has interchangeable parts that can transform the mannequin into a female. She said the wireless features allow SIM man 3G to be mobile.
“You could put (SIM man 3G), say, in the back of an ambulance and the controller could be in another part of the area working the mannequin’s functions without ever being seen by the students,” she said.
The lab also has an older model of the mannequin called SIM man Classic. He is not wireless and his eyes are not open, but he does respond to drug administration and has a monitor with vitals. Stevens said in addition to SIM man 3G and SIM man Classic, the simulation lab has several other mannequins, including a gender-neutral baby, a female that gives birth, two less complex females and an assortment of static mannequins that feature specific health problems.
She said simulation scenarios are built into the nursing curriculum and allow students to perform hands-on training for many procedures.
“We’re able to give them scenarios that they may not get in their clinical settings out in hospitals,” she said.
If a mistake is made during a scenario, the student and instructor discuss what went wrong and the thought process of the student at the time of the problem, she said.
“Simulation is an opportunity to test your nursing care,” Stevens said.
Scenarios can be pre-programmed or an operator can manually control the mannequin during the scenario.
Haynes said simulation has been used in U.S. medical schools since the 1990s for anesthesiology training but is now applied to all areas of the medical field.