New lifelike patient simulator may help Viterbo nursing students save lives

Nursing students at Viterbo were caught by surprise today when they had to use their newly learned skills to save a 12-year-old boy who was having difficulty breathing.

Only this boy wasn’t a typical patient, or even a boy at all.

It was a simulator.

Viterbo nursing school just purchased the lifelike pediatric patient simulator for around $60,000.

The simulator called Pediatric HAL is one of the newest, most realistic training mannequins on the market, and Viterbo is one of the first schools to train with him.

Viterbo nursing students, like Michaela Sandquist, had no idea when they arrived to class they would be putting their lifesaving skills to the test.

“We prepped on our patient scenarios last night but we had no idea that when we came in today that we’d have a new mannequin,” Sandquist said.

Sandquist and her classmates discovered that the simulator, aka Kenny, a 12-year-old-boy, was having some major problems.

“We checked some vitals, took his overall appearance in, asked him how he was feeling and then checked his breathing. He was having some difficulty breathing,” Sandquist said.

After some examination, Sandquist discovered what was wrong

“He had some asthma exacerbations,” Sandquist said.

And even though Kenny, of course, was never in any danger Sandquist said the experience felt real.

“It’s scary because it’s so realistic,” Sandquist said.

Sandquist’s professor, Jamie Dunnum, said it’s important for students to learn and make mistakes during simulations like this rather than in real life.

“What’s really nice about our simulation center is we work with small groups of students, anywhere from three to six, and they have a lot of one on one time with us so that we’re able to work through those simulations and scenarios and they feel confident in those skills when they walk out the door,” Dunnum said.

And even though it was stressful Sandquist knows she’s found her calling.

“I’ve always had a caring personality and for me nursing was something that I discovered really incorporated that into a profession,” Sandquist said.

Even though Kenny is Viterbo’s newest simulator, they also have a handful of others, including a baby and a pregnant mother that can even give birth.

In a typical class they will spend at least 12 hours in the clinical simulation learning center.

The university says since they opened the simulation center in 2011 they can see a big difference in how their students perform.

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