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Education by simulation

Corporate partners help revolutionize nursing instruction

The School of Nursing’s new 13,000-square-foot Smart Hospital™ is poised to change the way nurses are taught.

“In the past, nurses and other health professionals went into hospitals and experienced random opportunities to care for patients with whatever medical conditions happened to be present,” School of Nursing Dean Elizabeth Poster said. “You never knew what it would be; there was no way to arrange for all students to have the same kind of health care experiences.”

Now there is.

As one of only six sites in the world to be recognized as a Laerdal Center of Excellence in Simulation, the Smart Hospital™ uses 27 simulated patients, called manikins, to educate students in acute, trauma, emergency, intensive and primary care interventions.

Laerdal Medical manufactures Laerdal SimMan and Laerdal SimBaby, full-body simulators that can be programmed to present an array of scenarios, from heart attacks to childbirth.  

Thanks to funding from the UT System ENTER program, a grant from the Amon Carter Foundation and the backing of corporate collaborators like Laerdal, Hill-Rom and HKS, the Smart Hospital™ has begun relocating from Pickard Hall to a two-building complex on the west side of the campus.

The facility houses state-of-the-science intensive care units, an emergency department and labor, delivery, pediatrics and medical/surgical rooms. To complement the simulated patients, actors will portray other patients and family members.

“The School of Nursing is a vibrant example of what’s going on in health care education today,” said Jimmy Glover, Laerdal’s national strategic products specialist. “They are on the leading edge of innovation and education for nurses and other health care professionals.”

Laerdal’s association with the Smart Hospital™ will allow prospective customers to see its products in an educational environment, an opportunity also being seized by Indiana-based Hill-Rom. The world’s leading manufacturer of hospital beds, Hill-Rom has established its National Demonstration Showcase at the Smart Hospital™.   

The company already has a customer experience center in Batesville, Ind., and another in Irvine, Calif.

“The thought was, if we can have a regional showcase site, it would give us an opportunity not only to bring customers in, but also conduct educational seminars and work with the Smart Hospital™ nursing staff to test new products and concepts and their effects on the overall nursing community,” Hill-Rom General Manager Chris Southern said.

Dallas-based HKS incorporated Hill-Rom products into the hospital’s architectural design, including a pulmonary therapy system, TotalCare® bed systems, an information technology system, patient and workflow solutions, and nurse communication systems.

“We contributed our expertise in hospital design and research to assimilate the donated products of Laerdal and Hill-Rom into a successful teaching environment,” said Tom Harvey, HKS senior vice president and principal. Harvey also teaches a health care design studio course in the School of Architecture.

“We conducted work sessions with representatives of both companies and generated detailed floor plans to create as close to a true hospital environment as possible,” he said.

The next phase is a 100,000-square-foot facility housing the Smart Hospital and Health System™, which will enable multidisciplinary evaluation of clinical competency, workforce and product development, and health care research.

— Susan M. Slupecki

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