Nursing Students Uncover the Mysteries of Labor and Delivery With New Simulation Equipment

October 29, 2019
By: Kristen O'Reilly

For nursing students, learning about what really happens in the labor and delivery room can be difficult. Often they enter their clinical rotation in the maternity ward with only theoretical knowledge, and even then they might not get to experience an actual birth due to timing. Students are also excluded from witnessing births with complications, as saving the life of the mother and child takes priority over offering a teaching moment.

Now, even before they enter the clinic, nursing students in the Dr. Lillian R. Goodman Department of Nursing will be able to experience labor and delivery—complications and all—in a realistic way with new simulation equipment in the Dr. G.B. and Lexi Singh Simulation Center. Using a state-of-the-art sim mother, faculty can program in different birthing scenarios to give students a taste for what really happens so they will be better prepared for real life.

“The simulation allows students to practice for when they are in the clinic and the adrenaline kicks in. Now, they’ll know exactly what to do and what to look for on the monitors,” said nursing instructor Angela Latter. “It takes all that they’ve learned in a text book and then the student is able to apply all of that knowledge in a nice way.”

A $250,000 gift from G.B. and Lexi ’85 Singh expanded the center’s stable of simulation mannequins, which—in addition to the birthing mother—now includes a 4-week-old baby, a 9-month old baby, and an 8-year-old child. A 3-D Anatomage dissection table, which projects a strikingly realistic virtual cadaver, will soon be up and running as well.

The birthing mother can be programmed to exhibit any type of labor, from normal to complicated. Students analyze the monitors for signs of trouble as contractions progress. The sim mom’s cervix dilates realistically (accompanied by equally realistic groans of labor pain) before the baby progresses down the birthing canal and out into the waiting arms of the nursing students. They can then cut the umbilical cord, deal with the afterbirth, and whisk the newborn into the waiting incubator for assessment.

“We are able to come up with many different scenarios,” said Associate Professor Paula Bylaska-Davies, chair of nursing. “We can also use it for teaching procedures such as cardiac care of pregnant women, or other specialized treatments.”

At a recent gathering to demonstrate the new equipment, senior nursing students Kelly Austin ’20, Mallory Breen ’20, and Caitlyn Dowd ’20 were impressed with how realistic the simulations were. The three already completed their clinical rotation in the maternity ward so they could compare the simulation to real life.

“It’s pretty spot on. The computer read out tells you what to look for and what to report on,” said Austin. “Underclassmen won’t be going in blind now. They’ll know what to expect.”

The simulation center was named for the Singhs in 2016 to thank them their sustained and generous support of the Dr. Lillian R. Goodman Nursing Department. In addition to the simulation equipment, the Singhs have also endowed a Nursing Faculty Development Fund to assist faculty seeking advanced degrees.

“I’m very happy that this equipment will give students confidence when they go out to the clinic,” said Lexi Singh.

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