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Creating Solutions: Combining Technology, Simulation

September 26, 2007

UT Tyler students checking blood pressure of Sim Man

UT Tyler senior nursing students Ann Taylor of Alba (left) and Crystal Jackson of Dallas check the blood pressure of a Sim Man model in a UT Tyler nursing skills lab. The Sim Man models are controlled through computers that can mimic sounds, voices and patterns bringing medical situations and interaction to life. Each mannequin serves as an interactive model patient for nursing students to practice various skills and nursing interventions necessary to enter the work force.

Tori Gresham of Rusk asks her patient, “How are you feeling?” “I’m feeling much better now,” a man’s voice replies.


But this is no ordinary scene of a nurse in a hospital with one of many patients. Gresham, a senior nursing student at The University of Texas at Tyler, is in the nursing skills lab interacting with Sim Man, a high-technology mannequin who serves as an interactive model patient for students to practice various skills and nursing interventions necessary to enter the work force.


The technology came to the university three years ago, after Dr. Linda Klotz, UT Tyler College of Nursing and Health Sciences dean, saw the need.


“There has been simulation in nursing for a very long time,” said Rebecca Fountain, UT Tyler clinical instructor in nursing. “When I was in nursing school, we ended up practicing on each other. We gave shots to each other. With high-fidelity simulation, computer technology is incorporated with mannequins to create the closest simulation to a human patient.”


UT Tyler skills lab and Sim ManCurrently, UT Tyler has two adult models at its Tyler campus and one each at its Palestine and Longview campuses. The models are controlled through computers that can mimic sounds, voices and patterns bringing situations and interaction to life.

“This provides valuable training preparing us for actual emergency situations we will encounter in the future as medical professionals,” said UT Tyler senior nursing student Robin Best of Jacksonville.


The safety mechanism is there as well.


“The students really like it,” said Pam Heasley, UT Tyler clinical instructor. “The simulation lab provides a safe environment for the students to learn appropriate nursing interventions. Students can give the Sim Man medications, intravenous fluids, or oxygen therapy as the patient case may require. The Sim Man responds to the students interventions with appropriate blood pressure or cardiac rhythm changes like a real live patient would in the hospital. Students are able to see whether or not their interventions helped.”


The technology also is a great learning tool where results are seen.


“The key indicator is behavior,” said Debbie Crumpler, clinical instructor at the UT Tyler Longview University Center. “All the learning through textbooks, videos and talking with the instructors is ultimately demonstrated in how the students perform.  Using Sim-man in a simulated scenario demonstrates whether the students are really learning what they need to be successful before they work with actual patients.”


“After they go through the simulations, I believe the students feel more confident about themselves,” said Sue Brown, UT Tyler clinical instructor. “Each experience brings confidence so they go in the next scenario more confident or at least understanding better what’s going on.”


As far as the future possibilities for usage in the classroom, they’re endless.


“I think our goal as a college is to provide an even more interactive setting with the use of a

control room so the instructors will not even be present in the room with the students,” Fountain said. “The use of Sim Man will only be increased in time. Knowing this group of faculty and how innovative they are, the labs will only become better and better.”


One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.



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Hannah Buchanan
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