Nursing students use a laboratory with high-fidelity simulators or mannequins that nursing instructors control from a computer. Instructors watch from the other side of a mirrored viewing glass as students work on the simulators, doing everything from setting up IVs and taking urine samples to shocking them and performing tracheotomies. The simulators have tubing in their arms and legs so students can feel for a pulse. In addition, the mannequins have sacs in their chests that move up and down to mimic the rise and fall of a human chest while breathing.
The Nursing Department has four simulators: two adult males, one baby and one woman who gives birth. The simulators are made out of rubber and silicon, and the department orders replacements for areas of skin, such as the wrists and the neck, so that students can practice giving injections and making incisions.
When instructors are watching the action in the simulation lab, they are also videotaping the scenario so that students can go back later and critique their performances. When instructors speak through a computer in the viewing area, the simulator says the instructor’s words. The simulators’ range of symptoms and afflictions are almost as broad as those of a human.
While the simulation lab supplements nursing education, it does not take the place of clinical work that all students are required to fulfill as part of their degree programs. With its equipment and staff training, the lab costs about $750,000. Funding for it came from the San Angelo Health Foundation, the Meadows Foundation and ASU.