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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          NEWS SERVICES
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For immediate use

 Feb. 7, 2002 -- No. 74


School of Nursing unveils teaching tool: mannequins that respond like real patients

CHAPEL HILL -- To an observer standing at the doorway of room 5, the scene could resemble that of any hospital intensive-care unit: medical personnel bustling around a hospital bed, vital signs being closely monitored and in the middle of the action, a critically ill adult patient.

In reality, though, room 5 is a laboratory on the ground floor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing. And the "patient" is a human patient simulator, a teaching tool designed to look and respond like a real patient.

The School of Nursing debuted its two new human patient simulators -- nicknamed "Stan" and "Stan Jr." -- Thursday (Feb. 7) with a series of activities led by school dean Dr. Linda Cronenwett and involving area middle school students, health-care and university officials, school alumni and statewide nursing faculty and students.

UNCís nursing school is among the few nursing schools nationwide to acquire human patient simulators for classroom instruction.

"The schoolís new human patient simulators allow students to learn how to care for critically ill patients in a safe, simulated environment," said Cronenwett. "Critically ill patients present a variety of negative-event, high-consequence situations that students may never see during their clinical rotations.

"With the simulators, all students can practice applying knowledge in critical situations where patient safety is not an issue."

"Stan," the adult simulator, is the likeness of a 250-pound person and can be programmed to imitate the health conditions of either a man or woman. "Stan Jr.," a child simulator, is the likeness of a 6-year-old who weighs 44 pounds.

The simulators mimic the human cardiac, neurological and respiratory systems and can imitate nearly 70 different health scenarios, including a heart attack, septic shock and a collapsed lung. Realistic features include eyes that blink, and a chest that produces heart sounds and takes in oxygen and respirates carbon dioxide. The simulators also respond, in real-time, to nearly 50 medications as a human patient would.

Carol Durham, clinical associate professor with the schoolís Clinical Education and Resource Center, programs the health condition scenarios into a remote computer connected by wires to the simulators, and students treat the simulators as they would a patient. The computer then records the actions of students so Durham can give them feedback on their skills and decisions.

"The advantage of this new technology," said Durham, "is that it allows students to build their skills in a hands-on manner by imitating real-life health-care crises in a controlled environment."

Nursing students are encouraged to speak to "Stan" as they would a real patient, and a microphone allows instructors to answer the students, as a patient would. Such interaction serves to further increase the realistic nature of the interaction, Durham said.

The UNC School of Nursing students working with the simulators are in the schoolís 14-month second degree bachelor of science in nursing option, which was the stateís first such program and is directed by associate professor Dr. Judy Miller.

The human patient simulators are manufactured by Medical Education Technologies Inc.; the company presented a $1,000 scholarship to the UNC School of Nursing to support student learning opportunities.

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School of Nursing contact: Sunny Smith Nelson at (919) 966-1412

News Services contact: Deb Saine at (919) 962-8415