“Only push during contractions,” the nurse instructs the mother about to give birth. “Now take two short breaths and one long one; you don’t want to hyperventilate.” The nurse in this case is a student at Marymount University. Her patient is a robot simulator that can be programmed for different birthing scenarios.
Marymount’s Malek School of Health Professions has state-of-the-art simulation laboratories. The pregnant mother and baby simulators are the newest “patients” with which students can learn how to handle medical situations without the worry of making errors.
Their purchase was made possible by a $54,000 grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
(CareFirst). As a result, Marymount can now offer “real-life” clinical experiences in all patient treatment areas, including delivery and infant care. Improving the availability and quality of maternal and child health care is a priority funding area for CareFirst. Enhancing the educational experiences of future health care providers is key to achieving this goal.
Karen Mitturn, the simulation coordinator at Marymount, explains, “The simulators provide a bridge to clinicals. Students learn to handle all types of cases. They work with the simulators in groups of four, so that they have plenty of practice time, as well as the opportunity to ask questions.”
Deborah Smith, the simulation lab instructor, adds, “Working with the simulators is invaluable since students mostly observe in labor and delivery clinicals. Here they are hands-on.” She adds, “We also have them go through the patient history and records to outline possible complications, so that they can anticipate and plan what to do in different situations.”
Arminda Liston ʼ14, who is in the accelerated, second-degree nursing program, points out, “We see the worst-case scenarios here – things that we won’t necessarily experience in the hospital. We see and learn about situations and maneuvers I hadn’t even heard about or seen. So I feel better prepared should I encounter them in real life.”
In just one class, the students might deal with a mother who is Rh-negative, has gestational diabetes, and is Group B Strep positive; assist with the birth of a large baby who is stuck with shoulder dystocia; and cope with an emergency early-term birth where the umbilical cord passed by the baby’s head, cutting off blood flow.
Emergencies require a level head. Smith tells the students, “It’s about not freaking out – staying calm while in emergency mode. You want to explain the situation calmly to the mother.” She also points out the importance of teamwork and time management.
Assisting the birth of a child requires the coordination of multiple skills. Working through cases with the simulators enables students to learn and practice skills in a safe environment, so they will be capable and cool-headed when they reach the labor and delivery room as nurses.
About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
In its 76th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health care company that, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.4 million individuals and groups in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2012, CareFirst contributed $57 million to community programs designed to increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of health care throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at http://www.carefirst.com, or follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CareFirst_News.
– Arminda Liston ʼ14 (right), who is in Marymount’s accelerated, second-degree BSN program, assists Deborah Smith, the simulation lab instructor, with a simulated birth.
PHOTO 2 – Amaura Cope ʼ14 (left), presents the “mother” with her newly born infant as Deborah Smith, the simulation lab instructor, looks on.