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Simulation lab gift provides hands-on experience for future nurses

Advancement Dec 19, 2022
Two men and two women gather around a nursing simulation mannequin.
Two men and two women gather around a nursing simulation mannequin.

KOKOMO, Ind. — A gift to the Indiana University Kokomo School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions (SNAHP) better prepares future nurses to care for patients by providing realistic, hands-on practice in a controlled environment.

The Tipton County Foundation from Legacy Endowments benefitting the IU Health Tipton Hospital provided three Laerdal simulation mannequins and the equipment to operate them for the SNAHP simulation lab.

The mannequins allow students to practice skills as basic as taking blood pressure and listening to a patient’s heart, pap smears and newborn assessments, all the way to delivering a baby and recognizing childbirth complications, in a way that allows them to learn from mistakes without harming a patient.

“With these mannequins, we’re going to have stronger students who feel more comfortable assessing patients from the beginning of their careers,” said Tammy Ledbetter, nursing simulation center director and clinical assistant professor of nursing. “If they can perform great assessments before they graduate, they will do great assessments in the workplace.”

The Tipton County Foundation administers the Legacy Endowment benefitting the IU Health Tipton Hospital on behalf of the hospital board. Chad Huff, program director, said the majority of the hospital’s nurses are IU Kokomo graduates.

“”The board wanted to provide a tool that would improve the experience of all nursing students at IU Kokomo,” Huff said. “They thought these mannequins being something worked with by most, if not all of the nursing students was an achievable way of contributing to their school experience.”

The gift helps nurses who will serve in many health care organizations, he said.

“They hope the impact of that gift will be that nurses coming out of IU Kokomo will have had an improved hands-on experience, and they will be able to transfer those skills into their post-graduate work as nurses,” he said.

Ledbetter noted that the new mannequins are more lifelike than previous models, with technology that provides a more realistic experience. She can program them with heart, lung, and bowel sounds, among others, and set them up to react to medication, have an allergic reaction,  give birth, and more.

The three mannequins each teach different competencies that the future nurses will experience in the field. The SimMom is a full-body obstetrical simulator that can be used to learn prenatal care, routine gynecological procedures, and team performance and communication skills during both routine and complicated births. It can also simulate all stages of labor, allowing students to practice skills such as abdominal and vaginal examinations, normal birth, shoulder dystocia, and breech birth, and educates learners to identify and manage potential adverse events, which helps ensure safe patient care.

Ledbetter said the obstetrical simulator will be used by both undergraduate and family nurse practitioner students.

“This mannequin can have every single obstetrical emergency,” Ledbetter said. “Everyone thinks OB is a fun place to work, and it is until something goes wrong. This gives students a chance to practice before they need these skills on a real, live patient during an emergency.”

Grant funds also purchased two SimJunior models, which allow students to focus on pediatric skills to gain exposure and practical experience. The mannequin is a six-year-old boy that simulates a wide range of conditions, from a healthy, talking child to an unresponsive, critical patient with no vital signs.

“These are wonderful,” Ledbetter said. “We are grateful to have this advanced technology available to our students. They are going to be better, more prepared nurses as they graduate and enter the field.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo. 

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