Montoya introduces her nursing students to their first patient
of the day, Mr. Pang. The 76-year-old man is apost-myocardial infarction
patient. Montoya reads off his meds and explains he has no known allergies.
"My chest hurts," Mr. Pang says, coughing. "I feel really
bad." His breathing becomes slow, labored.
Senior Ann Garcia (below, center) uses her stethoscope to listen to
his chest and hears fluid. After a quick consult with Montoya, she administers
Lasix to help flush the fluid away. Just minutes later, her patient
flatlines. Garcia looks to her instructor, who assures her she did everything
she could. But even so, her patient has expired.
Fortunately Mr. Pang is not a real person. He is one of two simulators
made of plastic, wires and computer chips that aid in nursing training
at SF State. Confronted with a host of lifelike features -- a chest
that rises and falls, a human voice that responds to questions, and
leads attached to a working heart and lung monitor -- it's easy to forget
that this is just a training exercise.
For the past three years, the simulators have been helping SF State
nursing students build confidence and practice their skills before they
graduate. Nursing students provide care for simulators programmed to
exhibit symptoms of medical problems including asthma, stroke and anaphylaxis.
A critique follows each scenario.
The simulators respond to appropriate treatments and "recover"
from illness. They can also be programmed to expire -- even if students
do everything correctly. The training exercises supplement students'
required clinical hours with real patients in neighboring hospitals,
where they might not encounter high-risk situations.
Efforts to counter a nationwide shortage of nurses will soon give students
even more opportunities for training. "Right now we're admitting
12 to 15 percent of our applicants," explains Andrea Boyle, interim
director of the School of Nursing. "We turn away hundreds of extremely
well-qualified applicants in part because we face a shortage of clinical
opportunities and space to educate clinicians."
Construction will soon be underway on a new training facility inside
Burk Hall that will address both of these concerns. Next year nursing
students will practice their skills in a large simulated hospital wing
with an observation room for faculty and additional high-tech mannequins.
The renovation is SF State's latest effort to meet the high demand for
clinicians. Three years ago the University launched a program that allows
students to earn their SF State Bachelor of Science in nursing at Cañada
College's facilities. The program brings SF State faculty to Cañada
and accommodates an additional 40 students a year, who receive clinical
opportunities at nearby Sequoia Hospital.
Interested in supporting the training of nurses and nursing instructors?
Go to www.sfsu.edu and click on "Give to SFSU."