Enhancement in Education, Part One: The Manikins Among Us

This story is part of an ongoing series about the BYU College of Nursing’s Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center and the College’s constant efforts to update it.

Eight new patients in the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center (NLC) just got the doctor’s orders: eight years of bed rest and weekly IVs. It may seem like an intense recommendation, but given that the patients are newly acquired manikins designed to help increase nursing proficiency, the tall order makes sense.

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The BYU College of Nursing recently obtained eight mid-fidelity nursing manikins, four of which are the Nursing Anne type, pictured above.

The manikins, four “males” named Kelly and four “females” named Anne, are created specifically for nursing programs. They replace eight older models, which were donated to BYU-Idaho, and come with many features that allow students to train in a variety of situations.

“You can set them to run scenarios,” says Kristen Whipple, NLC assistant supervisor. “It changes every day to a different lab. It’s something on Monday, and then it’s a different lab on Tuesday.”

The Anne and Kelly manikins are considered low to mid-fidelity, which means that they can represent a human to a reasonable extent. When purchased with digital equipment, including a device known as a SimPad, they create a more lifelike patient.

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NLC supervisor Colleen Tingey and student employee Brian Wing work to unload the new manikins, which have weights comparable to normal people.

“They serve a great purpose just as they are. If you add the SimPad to them, then you can hear heart sounds, lung sounds, belly sounds, GI tract sounds,” Whipple says. “The manikins give us a great opportunity to let you hear what the not-normal sounds like.”

BYU nursing students work with manikins, including four high-fidelity ones, throughout their time in the nursing school. During their first three semesters, students use Anne and Kelly to run through the basics of inserting an IV, dressing wounds, and communicating with a patient. Often students will pair up, with one treating the manikin and the other vocalizing potential responses from the patient.

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Appendages to the nursing manikins wait to be unwrapped.

Each one represents a significant investment in student education; according to Colleen Tingey, NLC supervisor, one Anne or Kelly and the accompanying equipment costs around $11,000 and lasts eight years. The high-fidelity manikins cost around $65,000 each and last only five.  Accordingly, the college makes use of high- and low-fidelity in order to maximize the investment for the students.

“It’s having the different ones that make the real success of the program,” Whipple says. “You really need both to do it well. The big ones seem like they’re better, but they’re good for certain things and [the mid-fidelity manikins] are better for some things.”

Whipple and Tingey, both nurses themselves, appreciate just how much manikins have changed how students are taught.

“I like the fact that it integrates more than just learning the skill. You’re practicing the communication and you’re bringing things together,” Whipple says. “I did go to nursing school, and I think, ‘Wow, I wish that I’d learned it this way.’”

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