University of Miami President Donna Shalala has many celebrities to her home…but this may be the first simulator. Meet “Sim Man 3G” a School of Nursing and Health Studies mannequin who made a “House Call” last month to mingle with more than a dozen donors, trustees, alumni, and community leaders during a private dinner and classroom-like learning experience. “It sounds just like a real heart,” according to Betty Alvarez, a retired nurse who earned her degree from the University of Miami in 1965 before starting a career as a certified diabetes educator and clinical researcher, The dignitaries gathered to personally examine the guest of honor and listen to his chest sounds, take his pulse, and peered into his pupils.
Sim Man can breathe, cry, sweat, register a pulse, catch a cold, and even bleed. Two of the school’s other mannequins can give birth to babies that coo, turn blue, and exhibit a host of other emotions. UM trustee Marta Weeks cares for Baby Hal an infant patient simulator, one of 17 patient simulators at the School of Nursing and Health Studies.
Simulators are changing the way student nurses are trained, teaching them how to catheterize a patient, hook up an IV line, care for a patient with an amputated leg, and even help deliver a baby in distress—all before going into the clinical setting. “We get theory in the classroom,” said nurse educator Susana Barroso, who helped explain many of the lifelike functions. “Simulation allows us to put it into practice.” During a semester, as many as 100 nursing students will train on one of the school’s high-tech mannequins over an eight-hour shift.
They will make their fair share of mistakes, “but the beauty of this is that it’s a simulation, and the students learn from their errors,” said Nilda (Nena) P. Peragallo Montano, DrPH, RN, FAAN, Dean and Professor of the School of Nursing and Health Studies. To aid in the teaching process, training sessions are videotaped and observed by instructors and other students in a separate room, and teams are debriefed after their shifts end, learning what they did wrong and where they can improve.”
“Simulation is revolutionizing the future of health care in this country because it allows both nurses and doctors to have vibrant experiences in health care before they actually go out into the field,” said Kim Greene, executive director of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, which funds initiatives at the Miller School of Medicine and a network of school health clinics in Miami-Dade. “The ability to learn something and say, ‘I’ll never make that mistake again’ is heightened because they’re in a situation where they know they’re being looked at and critiqued.”