Last week, Fort Scott Community College nursing students lost a patient. Peers and mentors agreed that the students spent too much time concerned with putting a catheter in that the students didn’t pay attention to how well the patient was breathing, and the patient died.

Last week, Fort Scott Community College nursing students lost a patient. Peers and mentors agreed that the students spent too much time concerned with putting a catheter in that the students didn’t pay attention to how well the patient was breathing, and the patient died.

Luckily, the “patient” wasn’t technically alive, and no humans were hurt. In fact, the students were practicing on a sophisticated, lifelike, electronic dummy used in the FSCC Nursing department.

Thursday, FSCC hosted a ceremony to announce completion of the human simulation lab, with all the audio/visual equipment hooked up. A series of grants paved the way for the lab, and cameras and other monitors help instructors and students both inside and outside of the lab itself.

For instance, a class of nursing students can watch as their classmates run through a simulated exercise on the blinking, breathing, talking dummy whose heart beats, stomach rumbles, lungs heave and pupils widen.

“I think this allows the students outside of the room to know the objective and watch and critique what the other people are doing,” said Dolores Pruitt, second semester instructor. “If you see someone else doing that, it helps you to know what you would do in that situation.”

The dummies have been a part of FSCC since the spring of 2009, and includes a full adult and a child, with an infant as an additional goal sometime in the future.

While the audio/visual equipment helps the students not inside the lab at any given time, it also helps the instructors.

“The recording equipment we have now helps our instructors keep track of the three to four students,” said Bill Rhoads, FSCC director of nursing. “It gives the instructors the ability to record the sessions and put it on a jump drive. That way they can look it over and see when did the students pick up the change in the heart pattern, did they break the sterile field, was the patient being ignored.”

FSCC’s dummies can go through simulations for a variety of scenarios, including shock, pulmonary emboli, spinal injuries, hypothermia, and other injuries, diseases and conditions. Further scenarios can be accessed through a partnership with Pittsburg State.

But it’s the audio/visual equipment that has taken the dummies from useful classroom tool to regular contributor to education.

“It enables students who are not actively involved to be outside and still able to critique it,” Rhoads said. “They catch subtle things a student in the room may have missed. Every mistake is a learning experience.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.