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Nursing Is "Sim Possible" at Catawba’s New Lab

March 7, 2016

Category: Academics, Evening & Graduate, Nursing, Students


Doreen, a task-trainer mannequin who manifests some gerontological features.

Steve Austin's blood pressure dropped, his breathing became shallow as his respirations decreased, and his lips began became cyanotic. Dr. Racquel Ingram was not alarmed though. She realized that Steve's symptoms were mere simulations, programmed to teach nursing students how to properly assess and monitor patient vital signs.

Steve, in real life known as Laerdal's SimMan® 3G, is one of six patients, all long-term care residents, who need constant monitoring and proper nursing intervention. Steve and his fellow patients reside in a new nursing simulation lab located in the Shuford Science Building on Catawba College's campus. They await the first cohort of experienced RNs who seek their BSN degrees and students in this cohort are expected to arrive this spring. Dr. Racquel Ingram chairs Catawba's nursing program and has spent the last year working with colleagues on campus to map out the curriculum, obtain the appropriate approvals for the program, and preparing the simulation lab and its residents.

Across the room from Steve, a wee baby lies in a crib, crying without cease, its limbs flailing. Ingram peers down at the baby with its lifelike skin and features. This is baby Maddox, or Laerdal's SimNewB®.

"We prepare nurse generalists and we want them to be able to meet or exceed all of the nursing outcomes that are required by AACN (American Association of Colleges of Nursing) baccalaureate essentials," Ingram said. "Our students may decide to specialize in one area of clinical nursing practice after they graduate, but we give them a broad variety of experiences to meet complex health care needs of 21st century patients across the lifespan."

Steve Austin is one of six patients who need constant
monitoring and proper nursing intervention.

Lindsey Wagner lies in a bed not far from Steve and Maddox. She is pregnant and delivery is imminent. She is Laerdal's SimMom™, "an advanced full-body birthing simulator with accurate anatomy and functionality."

Lindsey can be programmed to simulate a manual or automated delivery and conduct exercises to simulate breech presentation, assisted deliveries with forceps or vacuum or other critical care delivery scenarios such as maternal collapse, a uterine inversion or a postpartum hemorrhage.

"Poor Lindsey, her destiny is to deliver over and over and over for us," Ingram said with a smile.

Two patients, both Laerdal low-fidelity Nursing Annes, occupy beds beside each other. One is African-American and the other is of Hispanic origin. Unlike their high-fidelity counterparts in the simulation lab, these two cannot make sounds on their own or move any of their limbs. They are SimPad® operated and are gender neutral until interchangeable genitalia are affixed; then these Nursing Annes can become Nursing Andys.

"Having diversity among our patients is important," Ingram explained. "It's what today's health care looks like. And, finding a vein to start an IV on a darker skinned patient can be different from finding a vein on a lighter skin patient. Our students need to be skilled in caring for diverse populations."

Ingram noted that using the SimPad® technology will allow the nursing instructors to literally put words in the mouths of these Nursing Annes who have already been named Leroy Brown and Hector Gonzales. "We can create different nursing scenarios by adding heart sounds to Leroy and Hector," she said.

Ingram believes that the general public has every right to expect the absolute best outcomes in health care today and she is particularly excited to be one of the professionals who will educate and train Catawba College nurses.

"If you train your nursing students right initially, it will stay with them until the end of their education and follow them into nursing practice," Ingram asserted. "We have these real life simulators so our students will learn to do it right. They will be some of the best trained nurses in the state of North Carolina. For our RN to BSN students, we expect the skills and knowledge they will bring into our program with them to be enhanced."

In the last bed in the simulation lab lies an African-American patient named Doreen. She is not a simulator, rather she is a task-trainer mannequin who manifests some gerontological features. Her teeth are removable like dentures, but they're held in place with Velcro not denture cream. Once her teeth come out, a hole is revealed where a feeding tube could be inserted. Doreen has different openings in her body where different stomas could be applied based on her condition. There is a place above her buttocks where a bedsore could lurk or where an intramuscular injection could be given. Doreen, like her fellow patients, is at the ready, willing and waiting for Catawba's first nursing cohort.

"Our equipment is state of the art and it's great to have technology, but you have to know how to operate it to its full potential" Ingram said. She noted that Vivian Stamps, a newly hired nursing instructor, will become certified in operating the simulation patients in this nursing lab. "Our lab even has a CartRx that uses the latest technology in medication administration."

For more information on the RN to BSN degree at Catawba College, contact Dr. Racquel Ingram, Chair of Nursing Department, at (704) 645-4860 or Dr. Jeffrey Bowe, Director of the School of Evening & Graduate Studies, at (704) 637-4463, or visit the Catawba website at

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