Students working toward their nursing degrees can learn many important skills from one of the school’s most popular instructors: Her name is Lucina.
“Technically, she is an obstetrical simulator, but we also can use her for general medical surgical simulations,” said Valerie Donnelly, MSN, RN, chair of the Nursing Department on the Belleville campus. “She simulates real-world situations and responds to what students do in real time, just as a person would. It’s really an amazing technology.” This modern technology has been embraced by faculty and students, and EIC is excited to offer this innovative educational modality.
Developed by CAE Healthcare, the Lucina Childbirth Simulator is a wireless medical manikin with validated maternal-fetal physiology. It is used to provide reliable, realistic, hands-on training for childbirth scenarios, from normal deliveries to breech births, shoulder dystocia, and critical emergencies. Lucina can breathe, cry, sweat, blink — even simulate a postpartum hemorrhage. She has measurable vital signs, and “the pupils will react if you shine a light on them,” Donnelly said. She can say things like “my chest hurts” or “my stomach hurts.”
Palpable, soft skin can simulate uterine contractions, as well as leg and hip articulation for practice in childbirth positioning and related birthing maneuvers. The lifelike fetus is delivered through a realistic birthing canal. It provides fetal heart sounds, airway suctioning, a programmable cry upon delivery, predicted 1-minute and 5-minute Apgar scores based on venous and arterial blood gas valves, and an umbilical cord that can be cut and clamped. A display monitor shows vital signs and heart rate and rhythm, as well as additional clinical parameters that are indicated for the scenario. For example, if Lucina requires oxygen, the monitor will display the concentration of oxygen in the blood. Based on this data, students can critically think and determine if the therapy is successful or not, and then Interventions can be planned or revised.
Lucina is an excellent learning tool, helping nursing students improve their critical reasoning skills, Donnelly said. The simulator also helps boost confidence by providing exposure to various real-world scenarios in a controlled environment. Lucina can adapt to many situations and as a simulated patient enables students to meet-s training challenges that may be encountered in the nursing profession field by utilizing this latest technology.
Experiencing real-life medical situations for the first time can be frightening, Donnelly said. “Sometimes things happen in childbirth that do not happen as planned. If students are exposed to these scenarios in a controlled environment, where they feel safe and they can learn from the experience, once they come up against a challenging situation real life, it won’t be as overwhelming to them,” she said.
During a simulated postpartum hemorrhage, for example, Lucina will bleed and present students with the data they need to assess the situation: She will turn pale, her blood pressure will drop and her pulse will rise. Donnelly says students must ask themselves, “What is going on and what do I do about it?” After they perform an intervention, they must assess if what they did was successful based on Lucina’s response.
Aside from childbirth training, Donnelly said. EIC uses Lucina to enhance general classroom learning. For instance, students learning about high blood pressure can see how it leads to complications such as heart attacks, strokes and kidney damage.
Lucina helps present a more complete picture to students, covering everything from initial assessment to critical care situations, Donnelly said. “Nowadays, you don’t have people in the hospital for five days after their gallbladder is removed; they’re gone in a day,” she said. “Our students might not see someone who has a complication from gallbladder surgery because the person goes to the ICU.” Through simulation, students can see the complication and learn how to treat it.
“The possibilities of the simulator are almost endless,” Donnelly said. “When students go out into the real world, they’re more prepared.”