24. July 2019
// Articles & Reports

Blood pressure from the computer

In the "Skills Lab" of Münster University of Applied Sciences students learn with a patient simulator.

"You shouldn’t call it a doll," explains Dean Prof. Dr. med. Rüdiger Ostermann. We are standing around a care bed at the University of Applied Sciences Münster with an unusual resident. With eyes closed and mouth open, he makes a very vulnerable impression. His cough and his struggle for air seem to call for immediate help. But in fact, we can continue our conversation in peace – because the resident is an artificial patient simulator in the "Skills Lab" at the School of Health.

That one should not call him a doll, is due to its state-of-the-art technology and its price. The costs for patient simulators start depending on the type at 10,000 euros and end in the six-digit range, says Prof. Ostermann. Artificial blood, watery eyes, babies – the selection is great and meets almost every requirement. The model in Münster is called Nursing Anne™, but could equally well bear a male name: In a few simple steps, the sexual characteristics can be exchanged so that the treatment of women and men can be practiced equally.

Lecturer behind the one-way-mirror

The patient simulator is lying in a Stiegelmeyer Elvido bed and is the heart of a nursing room. On one wall is a large mirrored window, reminiscent of the interrogation room from a television crime show. In fact, the lecturer sits invisibly behind the glass and, like a director, observes his students’ performance. Sascha Quitter from the School of Health, who oversees the Skills Lab, shows us the room's impressive computer equipment. The lecturer can produce symptoms and have the patient speak via the microphone, so that a proper dialogue is established during the anamnesis. Or he films the events and immediately sets green and red markings in the video, in order to show the student what was good and what could be improved.

Learning with a patient simulator brings many benefits to students and faculty. Potentially painful procedures such as e.g. the laying of a catheter can be practiced here without inconvenience for real human patients. At the same time, student performance is easier to assess: with a fixed preset heart rate and blood pressure, their results are either right or wrong.

Theater educators as practice partners

Nevertheless, living people are also needed as practice partners in the Skills Lab. Theaterpädagogik (theatre education) students from the University of Applied Sciences in nearby Osnabrück take on this role. "The theater educators are so well trained that they can play a situation exactly the same 20 times in a row," says Prof. Ostermann.

In the School of Health at the University of Applied Sciences Münster future nursing teachers are trained. These students have already completed a three-year nursing education and are now learning how to pass on their knowledge to the next generation. Above all, instruction situations are practiced with the patient simulator.

The path to becoming a nursing teacher is long. After the three-year nursing training, there are a further three years of a bachelor's degree and two years of master's degree in the syllabus – a total of at least eight years. "During this time, other students have already earned a doctorate," says Prof. Ostermann. But the goal is worth it. "Our graduates do not have to apply for jobs. They choose the nursing schools that are allowed to apply to them," explains Mr. Ostermann. The pay, which had previously lagged behind other apprenticeships, is now at a good level.

The care bed Elvido plays an important role in the Skills Lab. With its help, the future teachers can learn to make their students aware of the many advantages of its adjustment options. Both residents and caregivers in nursing situations are relieved. In the future, there will also be a separate Skills Lab for the hospital sector in a planned new building for the School of Health in Münster.

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