The College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s Smart Hospital strives to prepare nursing students for real-world careers — which include shopping for fudge and creating movie-style wounds.
Simulation technicians are key to running the facility, as they’re experts in the world of technology. While the instructors focus on teaching nursing academia, the technicians set up labs, work with patient simulators and navigate the network to create realistic lab simulations for students, simulation technology manager Erica Hinojosa said.
Simulation technician Crystal Roden uses ballistics gel, which becomes pliable once melted and cooled, to make superficial wounds and infections. These are then placed on patient-mannequins or standardized patients (paid actors) for students to identify and operate on. She is currently working to make feet using the gel to teach participants how to remove ingrown toenails.
Roden created task trainers using materials like latex and silicone to simulate ringworm, gashes and infections so students have tangible examples of what those would look like in a hospital. She said making the trainers in-house, as opposed to purchasing elsewhere, saves money.
Roden is a moulage specialist who’s adept to the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training emergency response personnel.
While she wants her products as realistic as possible, she said if they make simulations too graphic too quickly, it can traumatize students who may be seeing serious medical wounds for the first time. It’s important to introduce the wound through a textbook picture, then a simulation, before finally viewing it in the real world.
She has mastered making wounds, but the Smart Hospital wants to take simulations to the next level by making an open broken bone to study. Roden said it will consist of multiple materials and a lot of trial and error.
“When you go to make this stuff, you’re gonna fail, something’s gonna go wrong. You either measured something out wrong or you have a chemical reaction,” Roden said. “You have to know your different compounds of what you can put together and what you can’t.”
Simulation technician Rosalyn Bautista is responsible for setting up and breaking down labs, gathering equipment and helping with inventory. She primarily works in foundation labs where she makes simulated stool, vomit, urine and secretions in normal and abnormal situations so students can get a good idea of what to expect in real life, she said.
In order to get the materials to build these labs, inventory specialists go to a grocery store to buy products like refried beans, chocolate fudge and oatmeal to make stool for a “Buried Treasure” lab where students look through the matter to find objects ingested by their simulated patient, she said.
Bautista was a student worker at the original Smart Hospital building, and she said there have been many improvements in simulations since moving like the birthing mannequins. She likes the opportunities students are given now by being able to learn through clinical labs.
“That’s one thing I really do like, is that they’re able to get this clinical experience early on while they’re in school,” Bautista said. “They can make mistakes here and learn from their mistakes and then when they get ready to go out into the real world, they’re more prepared.”
Hinojosa said she is always trying to improve the simulations and give students the most realistic experience possible. To further develop the Smart Hospital, she has made a course for biomedical engineering juniors and seniors to problem-solve the facility’s challenges.
“We’ve developed simulated thermometers and simulated glucometers that use computerized language written where we can go through the whole motions of taking a temperature, push the button and get a reading without actually taking a temperature or without actually taking a glucometer,” Hinojosa said.
She said that because their current education manager has a background in nursing, the students’ educational model of learning is much better now than it was before.
“I do think we provide much better standards of practice and simulation,” Hinojosa said. “We had a much different mindset and that was a business mindset, and now we have a much more educational mindset. And I think that’s really created a different experience with different educational tools that we need for our learners.”
Left: Tinkercad 3D renderings of drawer dividers used for Sim2Grow cart organization. Right: 3D rendering of call and Code Blue buttons.