Dawn Mangine

    The use of standardized participants (SPs), also called simulated patients, is enhanced when SPs are outfitted with trainers that can be manipulated as if they were real parts of a body. The use of these wearable trainers does three things.

    Enhances Realism

    When a trainer is attached to an actual person, rather than using a manikin, it makes the simulation very realistic. An SP should react to needle sticks, unexpected touch, and verbal instructions with the appropriate action, whether a loud, “OUCH,” a startle reflex, or verbal consent. This sort of immersion reminds students that patients are people too, who need a heads up about contact. It helps students remember to say, “I am going to give you an IV or shot now,” or “Does this hurt?” when touching a simulated rash or bruise.

    Develops Empathy

    Another advantage of learning how to use wearable trainers in simulation is that students can develop empathy. Seeing how a bariatric patient needs to move through the world, or how an anxious person may react to getting blood drawn gives students insight into how to treat appropriately.

    Occasionally, instructors may want students to try on the wearable tech to get a sense for what their patients may be experiencing. For example, trying on a simulated obesity suit or dementia goggles can give that student increased understanding and empathy for their future patients.

    Provides Visual Feedback

    Interacting with realistic components of a simulation can increase the real-life takeaways for students. For instance, when inserting an IV, students in clinicals will expect to see a flash; if they can have that same experience in the classroom with the help of a pressurized, simulated blood vessel in an IV trainer and non-staining simulated blood they will be even more prepared to handle that experience in clinicals.

    Furthermore, analyzing blood pressure and blood glucose readings is a regular part of a nurse’s job. Incorporating real readings into scenarios using an SAFinger Stick Kit can save students from having to “pretend” to get a certain reading; rather, the student will get a real reading and respond appropriately, keeping them engaged in the simulation as though it were real and minimizing the number of behaviors and actions that they have to fake.

    The options for incorporating simulations into education continue to expand. With the development of wearable trainers for real-life practice, students will continue to improve and be better prepared for their clinicals and patient interactions. The combination of SPs and wearable trainers enhances realism, helps students develop empathy, and reinforces learning through visual feedback.