Susan F. Russell, instructional support technician and coordinator of the Innovative Practice Center, programs "Noelle," a new simulator that allows students to practice delivering babies.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Birthing simulator to help Decker studentsTweet
A new birthing simulator will soon give Decker School of Nursing students an experience similar to a hospital delivery room.
The Noelle Maternal and Neonatal Birthing Simulator arrived in early January at Decker’s Innovative Practice Center. The simulator features a full-sized, female mannequin and baby who, thanks to advanced software, can produce various complications for the students to learn from.
“Noelle is the first (simulator) in which we’ve been able to do any kind of labor and complications of pregnancy and delivery,” said Susan Russell, coordinator of the Innovative Practice Center. “Students will be able to experience these things in the safety of the lab.”
The birthing simulator was purchased as part of a $194,780 grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration ARRA-Equipment to Enhance Training for Health Professionals Program. Decker also received two more “SimMan” simulators, two CPR mannequins, a defibrillator and an electronic medication dispensing machine.
“It went a very long way,” Russell said of the grant. “We were literally jumping up and down with glee.”
Noelle is a plastic and rubber mannequin that includes a removable abdomen and a mechanical guide that slowly leads the baby mannequin through the birth canal. A fake placenta and umbilical cord are also provided, along with “Newborn Hal,” who students can work with after the delivery.
The simulator’s computer software allows Russell and others to program a variety of complications and delivery situations for Noelle. For example, Noelle can have a breech or C-section delivery; experience high-blood pressure, cord issues or shoulder dystocia; or even suffer a seizure during labor. The software also sets the length of Noelle’s labor.
Some students will take on the role of lead nurse during the simulation, Russell said.
“We usually give them the comfort of each other,” she said. “We put two nurses in, so they are not so pressured to manage the care.”
But additional pressure can come from other students playing the roles of family members in the delivery room. This adds realism to the process, Russell said.
“We can give them ideas on how to act,” she said. “A nervous husband could collapse and faint. Is the dad aggressive? Is the dad comforting? You can go any way you want to go. That’s the beauty of simulation.”
“A big part of this job is communication – communicating with the patient and family,” said Patrick Leiby, instructional support technician and media specialist for Decker. “So it’s good to have the family in the simulation.”
The realism won’t extend to full-length labor, though. Students won’t be expected to help Noelle through a five-hour or 10-hour labor, Russell and Leiby said. Instead, they will focus on specific situations. For example, if Noelle has a bleeding complication, students may emphasize the remedy instead of the actual birth.
“You have to decide exactly what you want students to get out of this,” Leiby said. “If students need to learn the first thing that happens after the woman gives birth and what they are supposed to do with the baby, we may just have the labor go for five minutes.”
Decker faculty members have already had one training session with the simulator; a second is scheduled for April. Nursing students will get to practice on Noelle starting in May. They already get to practice various medical scenarios on SimMen at the Innovative Practice Center, where their work is videotaped and faculty members can observe through a one-way mirror.
For Russell, the acquisition of the birthing simulator is a big step forward for Decker and its students.
“To me, it goes to public safety and increasing the confidence of our students,” she said. “They will experience this in a safe environment before getting into the hospital and real situations. It doesn’t matter if you are the nurse during the scenario or you are the observer. All the students are getting the same information. You can’t get that at a hospital.”