Nursing’s Perpetual Patients
Oscar and Felix talk, laugh, cry, suffer from every disease or condition known to medical science and like to flirt with ASU nursing students.
Sounds like a couple of dirty old men, but they are actually computerized mannequins in the Nursing Department’s new Hi-Fidelity Simulation Lab.
This odd couple, comprising half of the “patients” in the new $750,000 facility, began helping educate nursing students this semester. They are programmed and controlled by the instructors to provide students with realistic training and care opportunities. They can even do things that might contradict their masculine names and figures.
“They both do pretty much everything and we can make them do just about whatever we want,” said Justin Louder, nursing multimedia specialist. “We can even make them both either male or female, whatever we need at any particular time.”
Understandably, Louder said that often the hardest part for new students is when they have to actually touch Oscar and Felix for the first time.
“We had a couple of female nursing students that got in there and you could tell they were a little nervous,” Louder said. “Paul Osmanski (nursing instructor) had me get on the microphone and make the mannequin flirt with them a little bit. They laughed and blushed, but they were really able to get into the scenario after that.”
Oscar and Felix keep company in the new lab with female and newborn mannequins whose capacity for ailments and conditions is just as extensive. Whatever his own future may hold, Louder will be forever linked to the new lab through the newborn.
“They have all been calling the baby ‘J.J.’ for Justin, Jr.,” Louder said. “I’ve tried to get them away from that, but I can’t. They laughed at me because when the baby came in, I carried him around in a suitcase and showed him off. So, they have named him Justin, Jr.”
The female mannequin, who can also simulate any type of birthing process, has yet to be named. That will be left up to this semester’s second-year obstetrics students.
“Since they are the first group that will use the maternal simulator, we wanted them to be able to say ‘we came up with this name and this is why,’” Louder said. “We want them to be involved in that process.”
Besides mimicking symptoms, each of the mannequins can also be programmed to make the accompanying complaints and bodily noises. While this flings the door wide open for potential pranks, Louder said they have been lucky so far.
“We have to keep an eye on Keshia (Murray), one of our departmental secretaries,” Louder said. “She wants to go in there, lie on the bed, and then jump up when people come in. We haven’t let her do that yet, but I’m sure she or the students will figure something out soon.”
All the fun aside, the new simulation lab allows ASU’s clinical students to study and learn in four fully-equipped “hospital rooms” that, in addition to the mannequins, are outfitted with the same state-of-the-art monitors, I.V. pumps, beds and other equipment found in actual emergency, intensive care, nursery, and labor and delivery rooms. This semester alone, more than 160 students from ASU and Howard College will utilize the lab facilities.
While watching the construction of the new lab on the second floor of the Vincent Nursing-Physical Science Building, Louder was cautiously optimistic about how it would turn out. Now, his and the Nursing Department’s hopes have been realized.
“When you walk into the lab, it’s incredible,” Louder said. “ASU’s maintenance and construction people and the contractor did an excellent job. It’s even more and better than what we expected.”