Jan. 18, 2007
During a recent demonstration at the HACC-Gettysburg Campus nursing facility, the patient complained "It really hurts," as he repeatedly clenched his jaw and began to wheeze. If student nurses had been present, they would have needed to determine what medical procedures to implement. Instead, observers began sticking their fingers into the patient's mouth and gathering around his hospital bed to feel multiple pulse points.

The occasion was a demonstration of the computerized SimMan patient simulator which the HACC-Gettysburg nursing program is incorporating into its nursing curriculum. Representatives from health care institutions which provide clinical sites for HACC nursing students were invited to observe SimMan in action.

Marilyn Teeter, director of nursing programs at HACC-Gettysburg Campus, provided dialogue to explain SimMan's actions, while nursing education specialist Susan Ray programmed various instructions into the manikin from a nearby computer. Ray, along with nursing instructor Diane Kemper, attended workshops during the fall semester to learn how to program the simulated patient. Nursing students will begin learning with SimMan beginning this semester.

SimMan was purchased in part through a grant from the Robert C. Hoffman Charitable Endowment Trust, with supplemental funding from Homewood Retirement Centers and HACC-Gettysburg Campus. The manikin will provide realistic learning experiences for nursing students and will allow students to learn and practice appropriate treatments without risk to real patients.

"HACC is really dedicated to clinical learning," said Teeter, "and SimMan will enhance that learning for our students." The manikin can be programmed to follow various scenarios; for example, he will go into shock and show respiratory distress. As students decide which procedures or medications to administer, SimMan's reactions will change in response, so students can see the realistic effects of their treatments.

"If a student chooses the wrong medication or treatment, SimMan can deteriorate and even die," said Teeter. "He offers students the freedom to make mistakes in a safe environment, so they don't make those mistakes in a real health care setting."

HACC offers an associate degree in nursing which qualifies students to take a licensure exam to become Registered Nurses (RNs), and a practical nursing certificate program which qualifies students to take a licensure exam for Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Both programs are offered at the HACC-Gettysburg Campus and at HACC's campuses in Harrisburg and Lancaster. For more information about health career programs at HACC, call 717-780-1988 or 800-222-4222 x 1988 or visit www.hacc.edu.

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