It’s a baby (manikin)! Your support helps current and future caregivers better assess and care for infants

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It’s a baby (manikin)! Your support helps current and future caregivers better assess and care for infants

Students with manikin

Thanks to donor support, the Central Virginia Center for Simulation and Virtual Learning (VLC) is welcoming their newest addition – an incredibly lifelike, approximately 9-month-old state-of-the-art infant simulation manikin. The manikin replaces a heavily used older model that saw an estimated 2,800 hours of usage and had started to malfunction.

Simulation Specialist Cait Farrar sees the VLC’s new Laerdal SimBaby manikin as a wonderful bundle of essential learning opportunities for current and future caregivers.

“The importance of training with a manikin like this can’t be underestimated,” she said. “It helps students get comfortable working with infants, practice clinical skills, and learn how to respond in critical situations. 

“We tell students they are allowed to make mistakes here with the manikin, so they don’t make them later. This is a safe place and a safe way for them to learn. We are incredibly grateful that we are able to have this here for them to use.”

The simulator is vital to helping students and caregivers hone their health assessment skills and gain confidence.

Caregivers from Lynchburg General Hospital’s pediatric unit use the manikin to update their skills and practice scenarios they don’t often see. University of Lynchburg nursing students use the manikin most often to learn about working with pediatric patients who have respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), urinary tract infections and sepsis. And students from Central Virginia Community College use the manikin to help build their confidence in working with a small child.

“The simulations are designed to create scenarios that resemble situations students may face in clinical practice,” said Lisa Jamerson, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Lynchburg who works with students at the VLC. “The students get really excited when they realize the manikin’s capabilities.”

The new model is even more realistic than the previous one – and therefore better for practice. The practice students and caregivers are getting would not be possible without donor support to the Centra Foundation’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Fund. The total cost was just over $50,000.

“We have a commitment to our learners to provide the best equipment and technology for their learning experience,” said Johanna Derrenbacker, director of the VLC. “The functionality of this new manikin will help us achieve desired outcomes to our educational activities.”

Caregivers can see the manikin’s chest rise and fall, check its pulse, look for dilated pupils in eyes that open and close responsively and even touch “skin” that feels more like human skin.

“This manikin will have a greater impact on learning experience,” Cait said.

Michael Hall, Olivia McClellan and Cara Brooke Petty, University of Lynchburg students majoring in nursing, are keen to gain experience.

“It really feels like I’m holding a baby,” Michael said. “It makes such a big difference.”

Olivia and Cara agree.

“It’s about as close as you can get to it being a real person,” Olivia said. “The whole experience is just really helpful.”