WILLISTON Williston State College nursing students are getting hands-on nursing experience with a new Advanced Life Support Patient simulator that will help prepare them to work in hospital and clinical settings.
""He can talk and he can make other sounds, too," said Linda Tharp, associate professor of nursing at the college. "We can make him a young man or an old lady." The mannequin can simulate various situations and conditions that a nurse might encounter in a real-life situation, such as a heart attack or stroke.
The mannequin can simulate a heartbeat, pulse, respirations and bowel sounds. There are pre-programmed medical, surgical and emergency scenarios. The instructor will control what the mannequin does from a computer, and student scenarios with the mannequin are videotaped so they are able to watch it during a debriefing afterwards and learn from what they did.
Natalie Larson, left, of Grenora, and Jessica Arneson, of Culbertson, Mont., both students in the Advanced Degree in Nursing program at Williston State College, check the vital signs of the Advanced Life Support simulator that was recently purchased and received by the nursing program at WSC.
"It's a safe, controlled environment," said Tharp. "They don't have to be afraid to do it. They can go ahead and use their training and knowledge and know that if it doesn't work out correctly they haven't injured anyone."
Tharp said the funding for the simulator came from the state Legislature. Instructors traveled to Bismarck to receive training in how to use it. The college has had the simulator for about a week. It is portable and will be used by nursing students at Williston State College's campus at St. Joseph's Hospital in Minot sometime later this month, said Tharp.
"It will really add a computerized advanced component to the preparation of health-care workers," said Tharp. "The unique part for us here in rural North Dakota is that we can simulate patient situations that the student nurses may not see every day at the hospital. Even if one student does see a particular health problem or crisis, not all the students will be there at that same time to see it. Because of this, we can give them all exposure to these situations and the opportunity to serve as leaders in these scenarios."
The college would eventually like to get a female mannequin, which will give students experience in the birthing process.
Williston State College has 15 practical nursing students and 12 students in the associate degree in nursing program on the Williston campus. There are 16 practical nursing students and 15 students in the associate degree in nursing program at the St. Joseph's campus.
"They're excited," said Tharp.
Tharp said the mannequin doesn't yet have a name but she wants to hold a naming contest so students can have input in what the simulator is called.