Just Like the Real Thing
Students Get Practical Experience in WCC Medical Simulation Labs
You expect to find advanced medical simulation technology at a premier research center like the University of Michigan. But you will find similar technology a few miles away in specially equipped classrooms at WCC.
Step across the threshold of the WCC Human Patient Simulator Lab and you feel like you’re walking into an urgent care unit. Curtains surround hospital beds, with many distressed patients. However, these patients are mannequins that come to life through computer-controlled hydraulics that simulate a wide variety of health conditions. They make it possible to give WCC nursing students a realistic preview of what they will encounter in their new jobs.
“With this technology, our students can measure a pulse, listen to a heart, or evaluate symptoms without disturbing the patient,” said Granville Lee, dean of health and applied technology. “And they can do it over and over again until they feel confident that they understand the body’s response and reaction to its physical problems.”
Simulation Experience is Put to the Test
The College uses several models in the demonstration classroom, including the METIman Training Simulator, a Noelle Maternal and Neonatal Birthing Simulator, a Real Life Baby Simulator, and iStan, a realistic wireless patient simulator. The U-M Survival Flight team once borrowed iStan to tape a news segment.
The neonatal simulator had a profound effect on Ken Hunt, a second-year nursing student at WCC who’s in the midst of a career change. Hunt works part time as a nursing tech at a local hospital. That’s where life imitated simulation one frantic night.
“Monday of that week we had performed a neonatal skit in class where we played out different scenarios related to labor and delivery,” said Hunt. “We learned how to use the baby warmer, how to aspirate fluids, and how to revive a baby, and a few days later I experienced the real thing.
“That Thursday night a pregnant woman coded, her heart stopped beating, and we had to take the baby. For a short time both of their hearts stopped but they recovered and eventually went home. I never thought I’d have to use the techniques I learned that day in class because I don’t plan on being a neonatal nurse. But it’s part of the rotation we all have to go through and I’m glad I did.”
WCC Partners With U-M for Dental Practicum
In the simulation classroom of the WCC dental assisting program, there are a dozen A-dec dental simulators that allow students to practice functions as basic as instrument exchange to as advanced as placing silver fillings on a simulated patient. According to Kathy Weber, program director, the labs are state of the art and the simulators are identical to those that students use at the U-M Dental School.
“We also use DXTTR Radiography Teaching Mannequins, which are fabricated of human skulls and teeth,” said Weber. “The mannequins allow our students to gain experience taking dental radiographs (X-rays) and to perfect the technique before they begin taking them on real patients. The students are taught to take both analog and digital radiographs in order to expose them to the most current radiography techniques used in the dental community.”
Dental students from U-M work with WCC students to apply their skills on the real thing—namely, WCC students, staff, and faculty. The College’s on-site Dental Clinic simulates a working dental office. Patients can receive a complete set of dental X-rays, cleaning, oral exams, and fluoride treatments, among other procedures, for a nominal fee. WCC students assist while the U-M students provide treatment under the supervision of a licensed dentist.
New Space Provides New Opportunities
When state-funded renovations to the Occupational Education building are completed in August 2011, WCC radiography students will have additional square footage in which to practice on some of the most sophisticated digital simulation equipment available outside hospitals.
The radiography labs have two digital Fuji Computed Radiography systems that allow them to practice procedures on special mannequins without the fear of overexposure that comes from repeated use on humans. Students can also organize and store their images on Picture Archiving and Communication Systems, which process and manage digital radiographs and are the same type of system that hospitals and clinics use.
“We are thrilled with the new space, which will allow us to expand our X-ray suites for students,” said Connie Foster, radiography department chair. “It also allows us to add a new overhead tube unit that provides more mobility for procedures. All our systems are fully energized and capable of making original exposures, and that is what sets our radiography labs apart from others.”