Southern Maine Community College: Diversity in Simulation Lab Benefits Students

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September 21, 2021

CMCC’s Health Sciences Simulation Center has branched out with computerized mannequins and other learning tools that reflect the diversity of real patients that students will care for when they enter the workforce.

The center, often referred to as a “sim lab”, is used for the hands-on training of students in CMCC’s health sciences programs. Over the past two years, the lab has added dark-skinned mannequins, while using lifelike silicone masks that cover the heads of the mannequins and provide lifelike representations of patients of different ages, genders, and ethnicities.

The growing diversity in the simulation lab better prepares students to treat patients in real-world conditions, nursing professor Martha Vrana-Bossart said a day after her students performed an exercise on a simulation dummy in the skin. dark in the lab. It also builds on the SMCC’s commitment to building a respectful, welcoming and inclusive community that celebrates the diversity of the College.

“We must be very aware of ourr prejudices about race, gender, class and how people take care of themselves, ”said Vrana-Bossart. “In terms of diversity and inclusion, it is important to offer realistic presentations to patients. With more diverse offerings in the simulation lab, we offer meaningful experiences to our students. “

The simulation center has realistic looking lab rooms and computerized mannequins that simulate real scenarios with real patients. Mannequins can connect to a variety of monitors and provide information such as heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and other vital signs. Operated from the control room of the simulation lab, they can also bleed, cough, scream in pain and even ask questions like real nursing patients.

Research has shown that there is a lack of diversity in the mannequins used in simulation lab training facilities nationwide. However, the use of various training mannequins has increased in recent years.

In recent years, SMCC has incorporated more diversity into its simulation laboratory equipment, including simulation mannequins and plastic arms and torsos used for various types of medical training. The arms and torsos, called “task trainers”, are used for a variety of workouts such as phlebotomy, intravenous lines, and other medical administration techniques.

The simulation lab plans to purchase more varieties of masks with the goal of being able to transform any standard mannequin into a variety of patient types based on gender, age, ethnicity and other characteristics.

Nate Taylor, a nursing student, said that increased diversity makes students more aware of the wide variety of patients they will treat after becoming nurses. Healthcare providers, he said, must be prepared to treat patients from all walks of life and provide culturally responsible care.

“It’s absolutely a good thing,” he said after completing a training exercise on a dark-skinned dummy in the simulation lab. “Anytime we can increase diversity in our training, it will increase our empathy for the patients on the ground that we may be treating. It’s about giving the highest level of care possible.”


This press release was produced by Southern Maine Community College. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.


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