Nursing department reveals birthing simulator

Category:  News
Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 at 4:06 PM
Nursing department reveals birthing simulator by Nathan Hirth and Shayma Musa
Photo: Allison Duda

Very few women can be so calm about their first deliveries.

“Victoria,” the newest addition to the Edinboro University Nursing department, is one of those few women, except she isn’t a human, she’s a birthing simulator.

The new simulator is a replacement for a 2008 model that was both worn out and made obsolete by advancing technology. Victoria can mimic 49 different clinical conditions, in addition to being able to have its vitals controlled on an individual basis.

“Our students come into the [simulation] laboratory with a scenario, and they treat it just as they would a real situation,” Dr. Terri Astorino, director of the nursing simulation, said. “So if they make any mistakes, this is the place where they can make them safely, without any risk.”

Astorino continued, “I can change all her vital signs here, so if I wanted to change her blood pressure or heart rate, if I wanted to make her hemorrhage, if I wanted to increase the contraction frequency...whatever we want to do that happens in normal adult labor and delivery, we can mimic here in the simulation lab.”

Natalie Nye, a senior nursing student said, “The 08 model that we had before was a lot older and was a little complicated to set up; this one is a lot more realistic.”

“We can do lots of procedures, like the Leopold maneuver, where you have to reposition the infant in utero, or even a breech birth, where the baby comes out feet first.

We wouldn’t actually do these in real life, but we have the experience in case there is an emergency situation,” said Nye.

“Those are the kinds of experiences that employers want,” Astorino added.

Victoria is controlled using a tablet like a monitor, which Astorino uses to control the system, making it respond to student questions and adapt to the skill level that students demonstrate in the situation. The simulator is intuitive, meaning that results vary depending on how well or not well students handle the situation presented.

“The delivery can go well, or not so well, depending on how prepared the students are,” said Astorino.

The system, which is additionally equipped with realistic skin texture, a voice box and bodily fluids, also comes with an infant, nicknamed “the Fighting Scots baby” until a name is decided on. The infant, like Victoria, is completely realistic in appearance and function.

This new infant joins two others, which are used to simulate C-section births, breech births, and now vaginal births. Much like its “mother,” the baby can present complications, such as cyanosis (bluish or purplish skin pigmentation) and low heart rate.

The simulator doesn’t just give students a leg up in the maternity suite either; it’s programmed with various languages that allow for students to further develop bedside manner and familiarizes them with treating patients of various cultures.

Nye said, “I can say that I learned a lot from working with the simulator; it really walks you through the steps of a delivery, and I know that I’m prepared for any situation that might occur.”

The nursing department is able to count Victoria as one of their instructional tools because of a $113,000 grant from the Dr. and Mrs. Arthur William Phillips Charitable Trust. The trust is based out of Oil City and has a standing history with Edinboro, as this is not the first funding the university has received from them.

The proposal was prepared by Astorino and Rosmari Graham, director of grants and sponsored programs.

“We submitted (the proposal) on June 29 and we had an answer by Sept. 13,” Graham said. “They are a great fund, very nice people and very committed to making the world a better place.”

Nathan and Shayma can be reached at 

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