Midwifery program teaches pregnancy untrasounds with new simulator

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(Courtesy of CSUF
Midwifery program received an ultrasound simulator that displays a virtual patient, allowing students to simulate an ultrasound on that patient.
(Courtesy of CSUF)

Tucked inside the Kinesiology and Health Science building, across the hall from the sounds of sneakers squeaking against the gymnasium floor, lies a seamless copy of a hospital known as the Cal State Fullerton Nursing Simulation Center.

Inside the center is a room lined with hospital beds occupied by adult-sized dummies whose faces are contorted in various states of distress. This is the home of a new ultrasound simulator.

The ultrasound simulator, which CSUF received Sept. 10, is the result of a $125,000 grant given to the Women’s Health Care concentration by the Song-Brown Registered Nurse Education Program as part of its Special Program award.

CSUF’s Women’s Health Care concentration is the first midwifery program in the United States with access to an ultrasound simulator.

“There is no other program that has an ultrasound simulator that will basically be able to show students the position of the baby in the womb,” said Asma Taha, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatric nursing.

Midwives are trained healthcare professionals who assist women in various aspects of childbirth, including physical, mental and cultural needs. Midwives are also certified by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education to assist births in any setting. As of February 2015, there are only 11,018 certified nurse-midwives and 88 certified midwives in the United States, according to the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Since midwives are not abundant in the U.S., this new simulator will further midwifery students’ training. The simulator consists of an external simulation tool that students interact with. They can view the simulation on four monitors, which display images of a digital patient as well as a simulated ultrasound and a transvaginal simulation tool.

The external ultrasound tool is about three feet tall with a blue and eggshell white cylindrical body. The tool is equipped with a handle attached to three hydraulic metal arms. The hydraulics can sense the pressure being exerted by the user.

Janice Enriquez, a recent graduate of the Women’s Health Care concentration and current doctoral of nursing practice student, had an opportunity to work with the simulator. As someone who worked as a labor and delivery nurse for 13 years, Enriquez found that the tool accurately recreated the feeling of using an ultrasound on a patient’s abdomen.

“It’s very realistic and the programs give you instant feedback so you’re able to learn from your experience right away,” Enriquez said.

Providing students an accurate simulation in the classroom is vital, Taha said.

“The purpose of doing that is to provide evidence-based care in a safe environment,” she said. “The students learn certain competencies without causing any harm to a real patient.”

The simulator also keeps track of how students use it, allowing professors to easily access data on classroom performance, said Ruth Mielke, Ph.D., assistant professor and Women’s Health Concentration interim coordinator.

A state-of-the-art women’s health care program is necessary given that CSUF currently has one of only three midwifery programs in California, Mielke said. The demand for women’s health care providers is high.

“As much as we think our state is one of the most blessed in terms of health care resources, there are currently nine counties in California that do not have any women’s health providers,” Mielke said. “That means no physicians, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners. And the more of these type of providers that we can train and graduate, the more we can get out to these areas that need care.”

Pursuing the Song-Brown grant was ideal for the program. The grant is intended to encourage “universities and primary care health professionals to provide health care in medically underserved areas” and give funding for programs such as OB-GYN and registered nurse education.

For students like Enriquez, the opportunity to learn through actual engagement with clinical simulations is invaluable.

“I like interaction from professors in class … not just through video chat or through message boards. I also like real-time interaction with my classmates in the classroom setting because you get feedback right away from them,” Enriquez said. “So to me, it’s more meaningful in that respect.”

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