As a nurse we ALL know about ‘Return Demonstrations’. It’s something we become extremely familiar with when practicing and performing ‘tasks’ and ‘hands-on’ skills. Everyone remembers or still utilizes a ‘skills lab’ don’t you? The majority of our ‘skills’ are things that involve patients. So when it comes time to ‘practice’ or perform the skill we often times have to simulate the task or skill. Some schools (I still think the majority) of schools and educational systems have to ‘pretend’ by creating a mock-up, while some school systems are blessed and lucky enough to possess simulation mannequins or some derivative of them.
We practice, practice, and practice. We go over the skill until it becomes almost ‘reflexive’, so that when it comes time to perform the skill in front of the evaluator we hopefully ‘pass’ and are considered competent at the skill.
That’s the kicker isn’t it? We become proficient with the mannequin (ergo: the dummy). But is the mannequin the same as the real thing?? I mean even the most state-of-the-art ‘sim-man’ or ‘sim-baby’ still can’t reproduce the experience you have with a real human being. We’re talking real, live people here!
It has to be one of the most tense moments when you take a skill you learned and became proficient with via the ‘dummy’ and apply it to your real patient. That split-second moment when you realize that the simulation equates to absolutely nothing in the real world!
Maybe it’s just me? But every ‘return demo’ I can remember in basic nursing school never actually followed along the ‘guidelines’ when I went to perform the task with my patients.
Yet, how else do we prepare for such tasks? I think the mannequins are a huge step, I really do. But in the end nothing compares to a real-live, blinking and breathing patient. There is no computer generated feed-back loop in existence that can accurately mimic what the human body can or really does. Sure, sure, sure it can come darn close, but I think I speak for many when you realize just how different the ‘real’ experience can be.
This rings home for me, because over the next couple months I will be transitioning from learning all I can as Nurse Practitioner student in the ‘simulation labs’ and ‘skills labs’ to applying my knowledge and learned skill with real-live, blinking and breathing patients!
And if this ‘real’ transition is anything like it was when I was first learning my basic nursing skills…. I’m in for quite the adventure!
I’m equally excited and ‘puke-my-guts-out’ nervous.
Is that even possible??