Student nurses at University of Delaware are seeking to exchange dummy patients for human ones, as they are more likely to provide a realistic scenario, especially when it comes to patient's expressing discomfort and pain. Student nurses believe that when it comes to real-life scenarios, new technology and practice on human dummies will hone communication and treatment skills. Would you volunteer to be a test dummy?
New technologies created by UD students and faculty will allow students to "practice suctioning airways on actors, who respond by gagging if they go too deep." At some point, students will also be able to draw blood from a "realistic-looking sleeve" or "simulate a urinary catheterization on sculpted genitalia worn by real people." Next June, SimUTrach will debut the first piece of equipment, helping students practice patient care with tracheostomy tubes for assisted breathing. Other patented technologies including an overlay chest compressor and a device that mimics a collapsed lung, according to USA Today news.
To best prepare student nurses, organizers are coordinating UD's Simulation Lab with the university's Healthcare Theatre program, where undergraduate theater students and adults will act out the role of a patient "struggling with many physical and mental conditions, including depression and alcohol withdrawal." Pre-med nursing, physical therapy, and nutrition students will need to respond appropriately to these "dummies" with proper "therapeutic communication that respects patient dignity." The silicone-overlay worn by the human dummies "resembles a rib cage and throat with a plastic tube emerging from the neck." There are various lung sounds such as wheezing and fine crackles. The UD team spent much time developing their prototype and is currently on their sixth one, after much updating from engineering, marketing, and fashion merchandising student designs. Even the mucus development is realistic in its color and consistency, with removable parts to keep the device from growing mold. When students are not properly handling the trach, the human dummies are prompted to cough or choke violently, as this is a common incident experienced in the real world if and when nurses accidentally hit the tracheal bifurcation.
Prospective nurses spend about 10 hours a semester working with live actors. Some more complicated procedures require manikins "equipped with breath sounds, heat tones, and palpable pulses." The monitors that measure vital signs can cost $90,000 each. A SimUTrach device costs less than $10,000. Amy Cowperthwait, who coordinates the UD Simulation Lab and university Healthcare Theatre program believes the transition to SimUTrach's technology will replace the current manikins.
If you are an aspiring practitioner, nurse, or doctor, would you want to test out these new technologies?