A new generation joins Uni

There will be some new residents at the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Health from September. Like the budding nurses, midwives and complementary therapists signing up for the new semester, they can breathe, have pulses and a heart rate. They can even speak and moan.
 
But the new faces on the School’s mock ward are not actually living beings. The University is set to welcome a family of ‘SimMen’, who are state-of-the-art mannequins, specially designed for medical tuition. Students will be given a taster of what it is like to deal with real-life patients, whose condition can change within seconds.
 
The Laerdal SimMen simulate breathing, with a realistic chest visibly moving up and down. Students can measure blood pressure, take pulses from multiple positions on the body and even practice catheterisation. The models can also be set up by a lecturer to imitate a range of scenarios, including cardiac arrest, all of which the students can – and will – face when they head out into their careers.
 
As well as the adult SimMen – which can be either gender – the University has invested in two SimBabies, to assist students specialising in nursing for children. One baby is intended to represent a child of approximately nine months to one year in age, while the other – a SimNewb – is a newborn, and their cry is extremely realistic.

First in the UK

Professor Linda Lang is Dean of the School of Health and is pleased with the new additions.
 
“The School of Health is delighted to be the first in the UK with the new 3G (Generation 3) SimMan. This advanced model will be with us in time for students starting in September this year,” she says.
 
“Simulation plays a vital part in preparing the health professionals of the future and enhancing the skills of current practitioners.
 
"Our 'Sim family' includes three adults and two SimBabies and will be used to develop the professional and interprofessional clinical skills of our students including nurses, midwives and postgraduate students on our new Physician's Assistant programme.
 
“The Sim family can replicate real case scenarios and will help us to build patient-centred team work in the safe environment of our state-of-the-art Skills Laboratories.”

A new stage in training

For Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, Principal Lecturer for Practice and Innovation, the new arrivals mark a new stage in the training of University of Wolverhampton students. She says they will be able to experience a range of scenarios with the new equipment, from the basics of taking blood pressure right through to cardiac arrest.
 
“The emphasis is on different learners working together at one time and focusing on the health care needs of the patient,” she adds. “This is as near to a real life scenario as a student is going to get through training and the SimMen can be used on all our courses.
 
“We are delighted that the Clinical Skills Centre will be further used to enhance the confidence and competence of all of our students. We look forward to working with our practice partners, other academic Schools within the University and the Clinical Skills Cluster Group, established in January, to develop this initiative.”

An insight into future careers

Current students also wholeheartedly welcome the new members of the School of Health team. Katherine Doyle, a second year adult nursing student, says the SimMen are the most human and realistic mannequins she has encountered. She feels that the equipment allows students to practice serious real-life scenarios within the classroom environment, providing an insight into what their future careers will hold.
 
“To experience cardiac arrest can be frightening, but with a dummy you can prepare yourself before it really happens,” Katherine says.
 
Her colleague Denise Williams agrees: “You have the surprise element as well, because it can talk and moan. They also have veins so we can practice vein puncture.”
 
Sandra Boateng is impressed by the new additions and feels that they will enhance the experiences of student nurses. “It makes learning really interesting too,” she adds.
 
The University has bought two System Two SimMen and a state-of-the-art 3G SimMan who will live at the City, Walsall and Burton Campuses, where School of Health students train. The SimBaby and SimNewb will live at Walsall.
 
The SimMen and SimBabies will be used by students in the School of Health from September.