New Simulation Lab Designed to Teach Next Generation of Health Care Providers

April 24, 2007

OGDEN, Utah – A new simulation laboratory in the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions is providing a greater level of realism for students pursuing degrees in emergency care & rescue, nursing and respiratory therapy.

Nursing student Jessica London attends to the SimMan patient as Travis Hart (left) rushes to administer care during a practice session in the Dumke Interdisciplinary Sim Lab at Weber State University.

The Dumke Interdisciplinary Simulation Lab at Weber State University features two manikins (SimMan and SimBaby, made by Laerdal), which can be used by faculty and students to practice diagnosis and treatment of patients. Running along one wall of the lab, hidden behind a one-way mirror, is a separate control room that houses laptop computers, monitors, microphones and other equipment that support the patient simulators. From the control room, instructors can select pre-programmed scenarios or manually enter specific medical conditions into a software program that will replicate an array of ailments in the patient simulators.

Assistant nursing professor Allen Hanberg and technical specialist Allen Lore have spent extensive time developing the state-of-the-art laboratory, which has been beta tested by students and faculty in the emergency care & rescue and nursing disciplines throughout the spring semester.

The patient simulators allow students to practice a wide range of medical procedures, from starting an I.V. to intubation to inserting chest tubes. Students can take vitals signs on the “sim patient” and determine a course of action. At the touch of a button in the sim lab control room, a faculty member can change the patient’s vitals, causing students to re-evaluate a situation and think on their feet. (The simulators can replicate various blood pressures, breathing problems, abnormal heart rhythms, lung and bowel sounds, etc.) The technology also allows the manikin to speak, providing additional feedback for the students to take into consideration when determining treatment options.

Lisa Trujillo, instructor and director of clinical education in respiratory therapy, said the simulators allow students an opportunity to develop critical-thinking skills. It also will help her teach students how to distinguish unique breathing sounds associated with certain respiratory conditions, such as a collapsed lung, pneumonia, asthma, emphysema, etc. The respiratory therapy department is revising its curriculum to incorporate the sim lab patients for future semesters.

All the simulation scenarios are video recorded, allowing students and faculty to later review how the care provider did and offer tips for improvement. Hanberg and Trujillo agree that’s where a lot of the learning takes place. The manikins are equipped with sensors that can provide additional feedback about whether a medical procedure was administered correctly. Recorded scenarios can be made available on DVD, podcasts and  web streaming, or be broadcast to any multimedia classroom in the building.

“The simulators provide a life-like experience in the lab that allows our students to learn from mistakes, even the death of a ‘patient,’ without the actual loss of life,” Hanberg said. “Learning from mistakes is powerful; students will remember the error in the simulation lab and it will stay in their minds when they are working in a clinical setting.”

Hanberg said he has had students become emotional when the sim patient has died during practice scenarios.

Trujillo said that if a student struggles or makes a mistake in the lab, they have time to think it through and learn from the process. In a clinical setting, a more experienced health care provider would step in immediately, reducing the opportunity for a student to learn first-hand.

The laboratory setting allows students to practice medical treatments for abnormal or less common medical conditions, scenarios they might not otherwise encounter during their clinical rotations.

The new lab was the result of a year’s worth of remodeling and reconfiguring of space in the Marriott Allied Health Building. The total cost of the lab was more than half a million dollars in equipment and resources. The completed project represents the dedication of faculty and staff in the college, combined with the generosity of donors and grants.

“This remarkable learning environment would not have been possible without the generosity of the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke family, who helped fund the facility,” said Shelley Conroy, dean of the Dumke College of Health Professions. “Their support has allowed us to develop the finest sim lab in the state, if not the Intermountain West, which will serve a new generation of health care providers.”

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.

Contact:

Allen Hanberg, assistant nursing professor

(801) 626-6407 · ahanberg@weber.edu

 

Lisa Trujillo, instructor and director of clinical education respiratory therapy

(801) 626-6834 · ltrujillo@weber.edu

 

Shelley Conroy, dean, Dumke College of Health Professions

(801) 626-7224  · sconroy@weber.edu

Author:
John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
(801) 626-7212 • jkowalewski@weber.edu

Weber State UniversityOgden, Utah 84408

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