Birthing mannequins help students prepare

[From The Orlando Sentinel via PostStar.com]

Birthing mannequins help students prepare

By Fernando Quintero The Orlando Sentinel | Posted: Sunday, November 15, 2009

ORLANDO, Fla. — The group of University of Central Florida nursing students stood at a laboring mother’s bedside, their eyes glued to laptop screens that monitored both her and her baby’s heartbeats.

“I feel really strange. There’s something pulsating between my legs,” she said, her chest rising and falling. Then, she screamed. “The baby’s coming!”

Moments later, a baby boy cried and kicked, his umbilical cord still pulsating.

The day’s lesson was on mother and child pre- and post-delivery assessment following natural childbirth. The patients, however, were quite unnatural.

Meet Birthing Noelle and Baby Hal, the newest addition to UCF College of Nursing’s growing group of simulated patients. The life-sized, computerized mannequins have pulses, breathe, move, speak and cry. They can be hooked up to heart, blood pressure and fetal monitoring devices used in hospitals.

Noelle and Baby Hal join other automated mannequins, avatars, virtual reality and other simulations being developed and used at UCF’s College of Medicine, which works with the university’s Simulation Learning Resource Center to help train students on working with patients.

UCF is the first school in the region to feature Noelle and Hal, considered state-of-the-art for interactive nurse training.

Using a computer tablet, nursing instructor Betsy Guimond chose from 12 pre-programmed medical scenarios nurses often encounter during labor and delivery.

“With Noelle and Hal, we can simulate what students would be exposed to,” said Guimond. “They let students feel more comfortable with their clinical and obstetrics skills. They help prepare them for a real labor and delivery setting before they walk out the door.”

Earlier at Noelle’s bedside, Guimond dialed down her baby’s heartbeat.

“What could be happening?” she asked the students in white nursing smocks.

“The baby could be sleeping,” said Carolyn Ward, a 22-year-old junior at UCF.

The students continued watching the heart rate monitors while one checked Noelle’s pulse.

After Noelle’s simulated birth – she can actually deliver a smaller version of Hal – Giumond pulled back the white sheet covering her, exposing a splattering of bright red blood. It is a lesson on assessing the lochia, the medical term for vaginal bleeding and discharge that occurs after childbirth.

Fake blood packets placed inside Noelle can also replicate a blood clot. She can even deliver a crack baby. “I smoked crack today,” she announced in a demonstration.

“Simulation is a great stepping stone from books and classroom instruction,” said Ward. “It prepares you for a real labor situation. You don’t go in there all freaked out.”

Later, circled around Baby Hal, the students noticed he was no longer crying or moving about. His face was glowing blue from colored lights imbedded beneath its plastic cheeks.

“We need to give him oxygen,” said one student.

“Take him to NICU,” said another, referring to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Guimond said Hal gives students a sense of what can happen during a newborn’s first critical moments. The students agreed the baby dummy better prepared them for their first time assisting a nurse, physician or midwife.

“I think it’s very helpful. Using the terminology and some of the instruments you would use in a real delivery room prepares you for real the real thing,” said Lisa Macri, 24. “Seeing the whole process makes it way more real.”

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