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2018 March 21 - 03:47 pm

New Simulator Brings Nurse Training To Life

Pediatric Simulator Capable of a Host of Bodily Functions

Marleine Luke, a student at North Platte Community College, listens to the heartbeat of a new pediatric simulator in NPCC’s nursing department. The simulator provides hands-on training for situations that students might not otherwise experience in a clinical setting.

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — The newest member of the nursing department at North Platte Community College is about to take training to a whole new level.

Students were recently introduced to HAL® S3005, a pediatric simulator is designed to mimic a 5-year-old child — to a degree that treads a fine line between genius and creepy.

Among other things, the simulator can blink, talk, scream, turn blue when its oxygen is low, vomit, wheeze and have seizures.

“He basically does everything but walk and move his limbs,” said Marina Makovicka, the college’s division chair of Health Occupations. “He has a tank for urine. The students can cath him, intubate him, give him shots, draw his blood, take his blood pressure and listen to his heart, lungs and bowels. They can even shock him if needed.”

That’s because the simulator is also capable of going into cardiac arrest. Its pupils react to light, and because it is wireless, the simulator can remain fully responsive, even during transport.

“That’s the most exciting thing about him,” said Makovicka. “I can run this guy from anywhere. He’s not tethered to anything, so he could be taken to the parking lot and put into a car for training purposes. We haven’t had the ability to do those types of exercises before.”

The simulator arrived in June, replacing a now obsolete model that Union Pacific Railroad donated to the college five years ago.

“The technology changes so fast,” said Kathy Harrison, director of nursing. “The old pediatric simulator was top-of-the-line when we got him. He was very good at the time and served his purpose. But, he was a moderate-fidelity simulator, whereas the new one is a high-fidelity simulator. Essentially, that means the newer one has more bells and whistles.”

The new version cost $33,000, which included a threeyear warranty and faculty training. It came from Gaumard, a scientific company that has designed, manufactured and marketed simulators for health care education for more than 60 years.

Implementation of the pediatric unit means all of the nursing department’s simulators are now state-of-the-art.

The college has two others: a mother and a father. The value in all of them is that they prepare nursing students for situations they might not otherwise experience in a clinical setting.

“I try to train students for scenarios they wouldn’t normally come across on a daily basis, such as gunshot wounds, pregnancy complications or fetal demise,” said Makovicka. “That way, the students are prepared if they have to face those situations on the job. They might feel awkward talking to the simulators initially, but they learn to get comfortable doing it. That translates into less anxiety when they have to deal with a high stress situation.”

According to Harrison, the life expectancy of a simulator is about three years. She said the ones at NPCC last longer than that because Makovicka takes such good care of them.

“She keeps them clean and the batteries properly charged,” said Harrison. “Usually the battery life on a simulator is about a year, but we’ve had ours three to four years. Our mom simulator was only supposed to have about 70 babies, but she has been taken care of so well that she has delivered close to 2,000.”

Harrison and Makovicka have their sights set on something even more advanced when that simulator wears out — a combo mother and baby.

“Those are definitely creepy,” said Makovicka. “Their eyes follow you when you move around the room. The baby has a heart beat and breathes for about five minutes after it’s born so the students can do their Apgar scoring, and the mom can actually breast feed.”

In the meantime, the nursing department is grateful for what it has.

“We’ve been blessed in that our college’s administration and Board of Governors has always been supportive of our nursing program,” said Harrison. “We’re very fortunate to be able to work with the level of equipment that we do.”

Also from HEATHER JOHNSON, Mid-Plains Community College

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