In this mock scenario, the nurses have more than just a suffering patient to worry about. The patient’s granddaughter is about to give her some water, which will cause her to asphyxiate, causing even more complications with this case.
However, the nurses do not know that yet.
“We’ve got some really neat stuff going on with that,” said Donna Walls, an education and training services representative from Medical Education Technologies, Inc.
The patient in question is a simulation – a replica of a human which can suffer a variety of ailments from cardiac arrest to drug overdose to asthmatic difficulties.
Louisiana Tech’s Division of Nursing has had a simulator for some time – but now, thanks to a grant through the National Student Nurses Association and Johnson & Johnson, the school now has the software which can simulate 90 different ailments.
Tech’s nursing faculty fulfilled the adage that one never stops learning as they listened to Walls discuss the various ailments and problems the simulation software could demonstrate.
While she lectured, the nursing faculty murmured in the back, but, unlike many students who talk in class, their words were of praise for the possible simulations and eager anticipation for their students to learn from them. They whispered, “I like them all,” “Let’s do them all,” and “We should do that one.”
The faculty received an opportunity to practice on the software, which, besides simulating various ailments, also presents students with legal and ethical dilemmas, such as suspected abuse or a patient who does not want to be admitted to the hospital.
“We’ve had to manually program the simulations, and it would take days to create,” said Nancy Darland, a professor of nursing. “We wrote a grant to get the software for these 90 different simulations, and this software is more user-friendly.”
Darland, Shirley Payne, an associate professor of nursing; and Pam Moore, director of the School of Nursing, wrote the grant to purchase the human simulator in 2005, and they, along with Beth Fife, an associate professor of nursing, and Ramona Guin, an assistant professor of nursing, wrote a second grant for the software.
Dr. James Liberatos, dean of the College of Applied and Natural Sciences, said the new software would help students feel more comfortable when they were presented with future medical problems.
“To have students go through this on a mannequin helps them become mentally prepared,” Liberatos said. “Before they have to do it for real, they have an opportunity to gain confidence.”
Moore said the faculty will start using the new software this quarter with the students.
“The students have enjoyed the simulator with the faculty scenarios, and this will really add to their learning experiences,” she said. “One of the most beneficial things about the software is probably the critical thinking skills. The students are in a safe environment, and if they make mistakes, they can learn from them.”