In what could be the start of a unique partnership in health care, a new "man on campus" has arrived on the Regis College campus. He is the Sim-Man patient simulator, a $50,000 human-like robot that has vital signs, can go into cardiac arrest, be treated for pneumonia, appear to be pregnant (as a woman, of course), groan and talk.
In what could be the start of a unique partnership in health care, a new "man on campus" has arrived on the Regis College campus.
He is the Sim-Man patient simulator, a $50,000 human-like robot that has vital signs, can go into cardiac arrest, be treated for pneumonia, appear to be pregnant (as a woman, of course), groan and talk.
Sim-Man can have multiple computerized symptoms and diagnoses, and will respond to treatment. Different protocols will yield different outcomes and help nursing students learn proper techniques. He is anatomically correct, although, with the help of a large tool kit of interchangeable parts, Sim-Man can be turned into a woman and be pregnant.
Computer-controlled by an instructor who sits behind a window in a separate room, Sim-Man isn't a substitute for experience with living beings, but is seen as a valuable addition to the clinical experience. He will be used for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level nursing students.
Erin Mawn of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, which funded Sim-Man at Regis as well as training for members of the staff, said, "There are fewer and fewer places these days that will take student nurses in for clinical rotations. Thus, Sim-Man becomes an important component for these young people to build both competence and confidence in a safe environment."
Sim-Man came to Regis in partnership with Wayland's Parmenter Community Health. Proposals to the Department of Higher Education, Mawn said, had to be made jointly by a school of nursing/health care and a home health agency.
"Home care nurses are increasingly being required to do high-tech chores in their line of work," said Scott Carignan, chief operating officer of Parmenter. "So we'll send our nurses to Regis for training with Sim-Man using scenarios created around home care. And, at the same time, Regis graduates can be a source of staffing for us."
Antoinette Hays, dean of the Regis College School of Nursing and Health Professions, said the future of medical and nursing care is going to be dependent on simulated clinical situations.
"Even now, physicians are learning to do open-heart surgery through simulations. And, in our case, before working on live patients, our nursing students will be able to learn through simulations, resulting in increased patient safety and expanded access to clinical experience," Hays said.
Clinical experience, said assistant professor Carol Martin, can be something as simple as introducing yourself to a new patient to something as critical as dealing with cardiac arrest.
"When I was in nursing school, patients stayed in the hospital longer, so we could observe their progress over a period of time. Today, patients are discharged so quickly that this is no longer possible." she said.
Her colleague, Kiar First, said many young nursing students "are scared to death" when they first encounter a real patient.
"With Sim-Man, since he recovers every time, this difficulty can be overcome," she said.
At the same time, the instructors can standardize scenarios for the students.
"In this way, we can observe what each student does in a given situation and then follow up with comments and advice," Martin said.
The state Department of Higher Education has been working for nearly five years in the field of nursing education. So far, it has funded 16 simulation mannequins worth a total value of nearly $800,000, including at Bay State Medical Center, in a partnership with UMass-Amherst.
The Weston Town Crier