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Mount Nittany Medical Center Acquires SimMan to Help Train Clinical Staff

by on September 09, 2012 8:08 AM

“TJ” is not your average patient at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

He breathes and talks, and at any given moment experiences various medical conditions. But “he” can also become a “she.” That’s because TJ is a manikin, and he’s helping clinical staff sharpen their skills.

TJ, a SimMan, is a gender-neutral computerized patient that is movable and flexible. It is more than five feet tall and weighs 75 pounds. It can breathe, talk, and generate heart, breath and bowel sounds. Staff can check his blood pressure, insert an IV, and shock him if necessary, according to a press release by Mount Nittany Medical Center.

“This is all for the purpose of practicing life-saving clinical, technical and decision-making skills, without risk to patients and healthcare providers,” said Susan Foster, director of education.

Clinical staff are able to “treat” SimMan in a variety of scenarios, such as cardiopulmonary arrest. Depending on the scenario, staff can practice intervention, which may include advanced cardiac life support guidelines for a pulseless arrest; airway management; defibrillation; and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, according to the release.

Some other rapid assessment and intervention learning modules include heart attacks, diabetic crisis, reaction to blood administration, and complication from infection, the release states.

These scenarios, some life-threatening, give staff a chance to practice teamwork, leadership and communication skills, according to the release.

SimMan was obtained May 15, Foster said, and the lab opened in July.

Right now, the lab runs five days a month, and there are two sessions each day, Foster said. Sessions can hold up to five participants.

“Class size varies from two to five,” she said.

By fall, plans are to host 50 staff members a month, and by winter, that number hopefully will jump up to 60, Foster said.

Clinical staff who train with SimMan primarily include registered nurses and nursing assistants, Foster said, although some non-clinical volunteers are invited to play fake roles, such as TJ’s wife or brother.

“It provides some realism because that’s what they would encounter in a normal situation,” she said.

The student response so far has been positive, Foster said, particularly because TJ provides a different kind of learning experience.

“I think they’ve enjoyed it,” she said.

Some clinical staff have never used anything like SimMan before, Foster explained, and many of them have only trained with CPR manikins.

“They’re excited,” she said.

With TJ, students can experiment and make mistakes, which provides a “no-blame” atmosphere for learning, Foster said.

“I think it’s phenomenal as a nurse to be able to … have a safe place (to practice),” she said.

After each session, the class discusses the medical scenario that just played out, Foster said. During this time students can talk about what happened, what went well, what they would do differently, and areas in which they would like to gain more experience. The sessions, she said, are divided into about one-third SimMan and two-thirds debriefing.

“The debriefing is where much of the learning actually occurs for the participants,” Foster said.

Foster, who has been a nurse for more than 20 years, said she didn’t train with anything like the SimMan, but “(I) would have loved to have that available to us.”

TJ is “one of the best” learning tools the medical center has, she said.

“Honestly, we’re so excited by it,” Foster said.

SimMan was acquired by Mount Nittany Medical Center’s professional liability insurance carrier, CHART. Training sessions are available to all medical center clinical staff. For more information visit

Staff Writer at The Centre County Gazette
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