Be cautious if you decide to stick a needle into an unassuming mannequin, it might just tell you it hurts. Dr. David Smith says high technology mannequins and virtual reality programs are better preparing students for real-life scenarios.
From a virtual arm to a wheezing mannequin, health care students are starting IV's and checking for heart murmurs before ever setting foot in a hospital. Texas Tech Medical Center's Sharon Decker says the sophistication of the technology brings simulation one step closer to reality for students.
"Mannequins that we had when I was a student just laid there. So, as the technology has increased with the computerization that we have, now we're seeing mannequins that are very, very real to life and that will just keep increasing as we get better technology," she says.
The simulation technology is able to respond to what the students are doing, giving students cues on how to perform certain procedures correctly.
"The goal with the use of mannequins as they become more realistic is that students will not be doing their first procedure on a patient, that they will be in situations on the mannequin that then they can transfer into the patient setting, and so that they are much more comfortable," explains Sharon.
Students have the opportunity to work on patients of all ages. There are programs to simulate geriatric patients to newborns. Simulation technology is growing at a fast and furious pace, bringing students closer to reality in the classroom.
Dr. Smith adds students also get hands-on experience with delivering a baby through a specialized mannequin that goes through the entire birthing process.