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Bethel College nursing department adds state-of-the-art simulators

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Bethel College’s nursing department recently completed state-of-the-art upgrades that will give students more opportunities for hands-on learning and development of critical thinking skills. The centerpiece of this improvement is SimMan®, a life-size and life-like mannequin with a sophisticated computer connection that allows students to develop and participate in real-life patient care scenarios. Because the patient is SimMan®, mistakes don’t result in harm to an actual human being, which creates a less stressful learning environment. However, SimMan® can be programmed to "talk back" to his caregiver, to reinforce lessons on interaction with the patient.

SimMan came to live in the Bethel nursing department this summer, and just a week ago, four VitalSim® mannequins--a man, a woman, a child and a baby--joined him. These simulate vital signs such as heart, breath and bowel sounds, fetal heart sounds, blood pressure and pulse, and allow nursing students to practice basic aspects of care for infants, children and pregnant women as well as obstetrical and gynecological care.

The public is invited to view the "Sim group" and the nursing department’s newly remodeled clinical lab facilities on Saturday, Oct. 1, during Fall Festival, from 10 a.m.-noon in the basement of Memorial Hall.

Bethel’s SimMan® is the only such resource currently available in Harvey County. Wichita State University would be the next nearest education facility to have one in active use, says Gregg Schroeder, director of nursing, and he doesn’t know of any facility in the region that has a group of the simulators.

"Originally, we thought we’d get only SimMan®," Schroeder says. "Then I went for training at the Laerdal [maker of SimMan® and the VitalSim® mannequins] headquarters in Gatesville, Texas, this past summer, to learn about the uses of simulation in nursing education. I was convinced that they really do enhance students’ critical thinking skills, so we needed to have more than one.

"The nursing department thinks learning should be fun," Schroeder continued. "Today’s learners are so computer- and Internet-based, this really works for them." The computer attached to SimMan®, and smaller ones that accompany the VitalSim® mannequins, produce logs of everything the student does or doesn’t do within a given scenario, he said.

SimMan®, the VitalSim® mannequins and the remodeling in the nursing area cost well over $50,000, Schroeder says. Gifts from the Roland and Edna Richert estate, Orville K. and Naomi N. Rutschman, the Bethel Deaconess Hospital/Bethel College Nursing Alumni Association, Marie W. and Martha M. Voth and Harold H. Harms made the upgrading possible.

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