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Lifelike Manikins Help Clinical Staff Boost Skills

Clinical personnel at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital are using cutting-edge technology to improve patient care. 

With the help of three realistic, high-tech manikins, staff can improve intervention techniques, learn new medical procedures and practice patient communication skills from the safety of a simulation lab rather than inside the high-stress environment of the hospital.

The lifelike manikins can be programmed to have a pulse, breathe, talk and even bleed. From a control station, clinical trainers program scenarios into the manikins that simulate real-life circumstances, and can then observe how clinicians respond. 

Brandi Young, MSN/Ed, clinical educator at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital and Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital, is one of the trainers. 

“We can program the manikin to have a certain condition, let’s say a collapsed lung, and then can make the manikin behave like a person with decreased lung function,” she said. “Students would see what a body does as it begins to deteriorate from a collapsed lung and learn to identify the signs and symptoms and how to manage the patient as they worsen.” 

The lab environment allows clinical staff to make mistakes, learn from them and practice again.

“Working with a manikin is a good way to build muscle memory,” said Jessica Carver, RN, manager of the Acute Care Unit at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital. “If you repeatedly practice a procedure over and over, it will become cemented in memory and you can do it without thinking about it. That practice helps build skills and confidence.”

Lab training also helps staff practice patient communication and de-escalation techniques. 

“The manikin can scream at you, and it does. In real life, when a patient yells it creates an emotional response from you, and you have to get past that,” Carver said. “Practicing here in a non-threatening environment helps us learn techniques to deal with those types of scenarios.”

While simulation labs like this have been used in college and university settings for some time, this is the first time local hospital clinicians have had access to the training on their own campus. The Newport lab is housed in the Center for Health Education, and a similar lab is being planned for the Lincoln City hospital. 

Just last month, six staffers completed the simulation training and can now operate the Newport lab. Also this past year, thanks to money raised by the community during the 2015 Pacific Health District Foundation’s Festival of Trees, the hospital purchased child and infant manikins to provide training in procedures specific to children.

With these new capabilities, trainers plan to grow simulation opportunities for hospital staff over the next year.

“Often a clinical setting is limited by those who come into the hospital on any given day, and clinicians are not all exposed to the same types of on-the-job training,” Carver said. “This lab helps us practice infrequently used skills and brand-new techniques, ultimately, so we can be prepared for all situations.”