Radford Simulation Centers add dynamic capabilities with new obstetrics simulators

The Radford University School of Nursing's Katrina Watson examines Tory, the latest member of high-fidelity simulator family.
The Radford University School of Nursing's Instructor Katrina Watson examines Tory, the most recent addition to the high-fidelity simulator family.

With the arrival of a mother and child, the Radford University Clinical Simulation Center (CSC) can mirror the complexity of patients’ health needs more accurately than ever.

Victoria and Tory are advanced maternal and fetal simulators from Gaumard Scientific, designer and manufacturer of health care education simulators used by the military, emergency medical services and teaching hospitals.

“Victoria and Tory will help our students suspend disbelief and be immersed in the best practices of a highly complex and personal nursing specialty,” said Cindy Cunningham, director of Radford’s two simulation centers.

With life-like features, mother Victoria and child Tory, who can be both male or female as the scenario demands, will provide challenging experiences for nurses preparing to assist at child birth and provide post- and neo-natal care, said Cunningham, who welcomed the pair to the CSC Sim family in July.

The simulators are controlled by evidence-based, peer-reviewed programs and scenarios, developed by the CSC staff, that reflect current best practices. The scenarios replicate situations in the simulators, or manikins, that may confront nurses on a birthing unit in a hospital.

Tory and Victoria’s eyes move, their skin changes colors, their pulses vary, they make noises and move their arms.  For example, Tory will enable nursing students in obstetrics classes to practice drawing blood from a newborn’s umbilical cord and inserting an IV, both delicate and complicated procedures.  

RU SON CSC Director Cindy Cunningham, Instructor Katrina Watson and Tory
RU SON CSC Director Cindy Cunningham, Instructor Katrina Watson and playfully work with Tory.

“We want nurses to develop their clinical reasoning and technical skills as well as their empathy,” Cunningham said. “Tory and Victoria’s life-like features and potential health issues will present challenges on those levels.”

Tory and Victoria are the most recent additions to the CSC Sim family of 20 other high-fidelity simulators and standard patients, or human actors, who portray patients with symptoms and lifestyle circumstances that prepare nurses for practice.

“Before the nurses go into the field, they have been exposed to a full range of experiences in simulation and thoroughly debriefed by faculty. It can be overwhelming and intense. We want them to be confident because of success in this rigorous preparation,” Cunningham said. 

A key aspect of the “experiential front-loading” process through which nurses advance is the boot camp.  Boot camp and the entire CSC curriculum provide immersive learning experiences in a safe and realistic environment.

Nurses’ critical thinking abilities, communication skills and collaboration experiences expand because of experiences that evolve from simple to complex in simulated hospital, outpatient clinic or community environments. Each simulation is followed by guided reflections, or debriefing sessions, with SON faculty using advanced debriefing techniques and video of the encounter.

The CSC at Radford includes two exam rooms in a clinic or doctor’s office, a pediatric room, an OB/GYN room, a Med/Surg room, an ICU room and a three-to-five bed room with advanced  electronic medical records technology. The Roanoke CSC at the Roanoke Higher Education Center (RHEC) is currently being expanded and will move into is renovated space in October.

“Students practice clinical reasoning using all three domains of learning: cognitive, psychomotor and affective as they deal with simulated health care situations,” Cunningham said. “The simulations build confidence as the practitioner increasingly feels at ease in taking risks, making mistakes and extending themselves beyond their comfort zones.”

In 2017, more than 1,250 students used the sites in almost 3,000 sessions for simulations of a range of medical events from congestive heart failure to depression to pediatric appendicitis.

The CSC at the Radford Corporate Park serves nursing students from the Radford campus in the SON and those from New River and Wytheville community colleges. The RHEC site serves nursing students from Radford’s cohort there as well as students from the Jefferson College of Health Services and Patrick Henry Community College.

In 2014, Radford’s CSC became the first simulation center in Virginia to earn accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. The Radford CSC is now one of 64 accredited simulation centers in the nation and one of two in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Aug 28, 2017
Don Bowman
(540) 831-5182