New training ”patients” arrive for CWRU nursing students

After 15 years in a hospital bed, being poked and prodded by student nurses, it was time to move on.

Six training manikins, practiced on by thousands of students of Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, were recently retired—replaced by a new batch of state-of-the-art human-like patients.

Well, they weren’t technically retired. The manikins were donated—along with some older physical assessment tables, a cardiopulmonary balloon pump and privacy screens—to three recipients: MedWish, an international nonprofit that finds new uses for donated medical supplies; the university’s own human resources department, which will use the privacy screens for its annual benefits fair; and RN Heavenly Hands, a Cleveland nonprofit that trains low-income, unemployed residents to become entry-level State Tested Nursing Assistants for jobs in nursing homes and home healthcare.

Day after day, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing students had practiced bed baths, bed making, transfers, dressing changes, wound packing, urinary catheterizations and nasal gastric tube insertions on the older manikins in preparation for actual beside patient care.

“All schools need patient manikins—especially the basic human manikins,” said Celeste Alfes, assistant professor of nursing at Case Western Reserve. “Students need a model to practice on, and these manikins provide the most realistic method for becoming competent in every basic nursing skill.”

According to Alfes, director of the Learning Resource Center at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, the manikins were in excellent condition except for a finger injury on one patient and a missing eye on another. They still have plenty of life, but the curriculum at the nursing school required more sophisticated models.

“We were happy to find good homes for the manikins that will use them to educate health care professionals of the future.” she said.

The new human-like replacements—unlike the older versions—are enhanced with accessories that allow faculty to change the patient’s gender, add incisions, colostomies and amputations from surgeries, as well as skin conditions, ulcerations, bedsores and other medical conditions.

“The new manikins allow students to become competent in caring for a diverse group of patients with complex surgical and medical conditions in the skills lab setting,” explained Alfes.

Although few schools have so-called high-fidelity simulators used to train acute care nurses to care for critically ill patients, almost every nursing school needs to use some form of human-patient manikins to teach basic nursing skills.

From the first week of classes, undergraduate students at the nursing school begin practicing nursing skills in the lab, which has four unique centers. The Clinical Teaching Center, which uses the manikins, resembles a hospital unit filled with specialized beds, authentic hospital supplies, as well as hospital linens, wheelchairs, IV pumps, and synthetic medications. The student nurses start with very basic nursing skills including hand washing, bed making, bathing, taking vital signs and transferring patients from bed to wheelchair.

This enhances the 1,600 hours of clinical time the undergraduates have during their four years at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. These hours ranks the nursing school at the top for required clinical hours at a nursing school, said Alfes.

By the end of the second year, students learn how to start IVs, insert feeding tubes and urinary catheters, give intramuscular and sub-cutaneous injections, change complicated dressings and manage a small group of patients, as they move into more complex care situations.

Tomika McHenry, founder and program instructor of RN Heavenly Hands, said: “The skills and qualities we teach our students today may be the skills they perform on our loved ones. We strive to teach our students how to be caring and compassionate, along with learning the skills needed to be safe and infection control preventative. We could not allow students the extra practice time needed to perfect their skills if it had not been for the manikins donated by Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing.”