CARBONDALE — When it comes to looking real, they leave much to be desired, but the handful of simulated patients kept deep within SIU Carbondale’s Lindegren Hall behave real enough to give students in the SIUE School of Nursing program the kind of training necessary for work in a real hospital.

Officials and students with the nursing program, which extended its operation to the Carbondale campus three years ago, offered an in-depth look at its simulation lab Wednesday morning, a room where six, life-size simulation dummies can respond and react to a nurse’s care at the touch of a button on a tablet controlled by the instructor.

The lab was completed in January at a cost of about $100,000 in a joint venture between SIU Ewardsville and the provost’s office at SIU Carbondale. The six high-tech mannequins are comprised of two adult males, two adult females (one of which can simulate giving birth), one infant and one 6-year-old child.

Students can interact with each dummy to some degree. While the exercise isn’t quite the same as being on a real hospital floor, nursing program director Susan Winters said it is a good test environment for nurses in training.

“What simulation allows students to do is make mistakes in a fake environment, as opposed to making mistakes in a real one,” Winters said. “It can be stressful sometimes, but we try to make it realistic.”

Nursing student Sarah Lambert, 22, said she can easily tell the dummies aren’t real, but when she’s under the gun to perform a task, the responses – which can range from coughing, sneezing and moaning all the way to seizures and even simulated death – can be a surprise.

 “You’re first reaction is, ‘Oh my God.’ You freak out, so it’s nice to see it on a dummy first,” she said. “It’s very helpful in learning.”

Surprises aside, the lab also gets students accustomed to the routines in caring for a patient, such as making sure bed positions are OK and ensuring the call buzzer is handy.

Winters said she and other program officials are pleased with the investment SIU made in the simulation lab, as well as with the success of the program on the Carbondale campus. The nursing school will be graduating its first local class this spring and enrolls an average of 40 students per year.

 

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