Simulated care

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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??

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5 Responses to Simulated care

  1. Amanda White

    I think it is completely possible to be excite and nervous at the same time. The first time I ever did a foley i was sweating and shaking and missed twice! But the idea of doing something I had never done before was exciting. Being a nursing student there has been so many things I have”mastered” in skills labs with sims and when I encounter them in the hospital and it is so different! The sims really gave me an understanding of the procedure but it was a hard lesson to learn that everyones anatomy is different. So far its coming along really well and everything is coming together.

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @Amanda So glad to hear!

  3. I’ve passed all the sim-labs in school and had the opportunity to work with a few real patients in my clinicals, but I’m learning from my externship just how awful the sim-labs really are at preparing you for dealing with the amazing variations of human anatomy. So far I not one foley catheter or venipuncture has resembled in the least anything that we did in the sim-lab! I know the sim-labs exist for a reason, but there’s nothing like working with a real live human being to really understand how a procedure is done.

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @John Yes, there is only so much a simulation can teach you.

  4. Abby Student

    I am actually starting my clinicals this semester. Of course we have labs the first few weeks. Before the semester even started, I was asked to take part in a study. They can’t tell me what it’s studying though. All I know is that I was told to spend five minutes on an assessment with the sim-man. Five minutes is a really long time. Wow. I have to be there at 7:30 am the first day of classes, tomorrow, to do it again. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh