The Patient Is Flailing and Screaming! What’s the Nurse to Do??

Take the patient’s blood pressure? Run the IV at full speed? Probe the abdomen for pain? Call for help?


No matter what the nurse does, the worst that could happen is an F for this simulation. The nurse is real but the patient – really flailing and screaming – is SimMan, a life-like robotic model. SimMan, SimWoman, SimBaby and Vital Sim Anne, who can give birth, are the newest aids to learning in nursing education. They form part of a multi-million dollar teaching facility at Fairfield University’s School of Nursing. In the Connecticut Section of the February 1, 2009 edition of the New York Times, Gerri Hirshey reports on this latest innovation.


Nursing students can now practice until perfect without the personal fear and trauma of possibly doing harm to a real live patient (Ah! How I remember giving my first injection to a fellow student who was recovering from an appendectomy. She handled it much better than I did.) Now students can feel confident as they approach their student practica and post-graduate internships. They will have done those difficult procedures on a robot, one who will moan, bleed, cry and indicate displeasure at procedures done poorly. The robot will also show changes in blood pressure, respirations (oops! Was that the trachea instead of the esophagus?), and other signs and symptoms of a procedure gone awry.


Bravo, Fairfield University! And bravo to this brave new technological world that has begun to lessen pain and suffering as well as save lives.


The next Sims I’d like to see are SimSis and SimBro –  to simulate sibling rivalry in family therapy sessions.


Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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