HUMAN PATIENT SIMULATORS IN NURSING STUDENTS TRAINING
This paper presents an overview of the use of human patient simulators in the training of nursing students in the College of Nursing at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). The College houses a sixteen bed hospital laboratory, a four bed obstetric/pediatric laboratory and five high-fidelity simulation laboratories with examining rooms, facilitator control rooms and student/faculty debriefing rooms. Human patient simulators have been used for over forty years in medical education. Almost every nursing school in the U.S. now uses some form of human patient simulators in nursing training to improve deeper physiological and pathophysiological understanding, clinical judgment, critical thinking and clinical reasoning. A human patient simulator is a life-like, anatomically correct, mechatronic driven mannequin with software based physiologic responses that mimic real patients. The College has the latest in high fidelity human patient simulators including two adult simulators, two obstetric simulators, two infant simulators and one pediatric simulator. High fidelity patient simulators breathe, have heartbeats, have bodily fluids, and can realistically undergo all the normal procedures a nurse might encounter, including being intubated, catheterized and phlebotomized. In addition, the Center has a number of low fidelity simulators, task trainers and a medication dispensing system. With these simulators physiological and pathophysiological understanding of the vital data in case of a healthy person and to differentiate these vital data with regard to the manifold of pathophysiological cases are trained allowing clinical judgment. Clinical judgment is defined as nursing decisions as what to assess, what the vital data suggest, what to do first and who should do it. Sound clinical judgment means using critical thinking and reasoning to draw valid medical conclusions and then acting appropriately on the basis of these conclusions. Critical thinking is a cognitive process of skillfully analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information gathered from or generated by observation, experience, reflection, or communication. Thus, human patient simulators allow students and clinicians to learn in an environment that permits errors and does not place real patients in danger. The end result is improved patient outcomes understanding. This ensures that nursing school graduates are prepared to meet the challenges of today’s requirements for a skilled workforce in the medical domain. Therefore, technology-enhanced learning environments which embed human patient simulators can provide nursing students with the skills, and training needed to verify and validate the details of the complex understanding of vital parameters in case of physiological and pathophysiological situations. The results from these human patient simulators allow analyzing the actual situation of patients in an intensive care unit as well as in the regular medical hospital stations. The paper will introduce in the nursing student training with human patient simulators as learning environment in the manifold of medical cases to become skilled practitioners in the medical domain.