New simulation trains for pain
UCF professor’s creation helps nurses
Published: Sunday, April 4, 2010
Updated: Sunday, April 4, 2010 21:04
As computer-simulated technology begins to percolate out of video games and into real life applications, many careers are now turning to the new technology to help with training and education.
Nurses at the Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando will soon be able to enjoy a new pain management simulator created by Kelly Allred, an assistant professor at UCF.
Allred, in partnership with Dr. Jacqueline Byers, completed research on a prototype pain management simulator they created to help educate nurses in patient interaction.
As a result, Allred won a $10,500 Faculty Scholar Award from Florida Hospital for Children to fund a new pediatric simulator.
"I wanted to come up with a way to maximally impact pain management in the hospital," Allred said.
The original simulator Allred created featured two virtual adult patients, a male and female, who would describe their pain to a simulated nurse in a hospital setting.
Nurses input information and assessments into the program based on the character's described pain and the simulated nurse will then make recommendations for treatments to the patient.
"Simulation is a huge component in not only the health industry but the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the VA — that's one of the reasons that Central Florida has grown into the nation's largest concentration of simulation organizations, governmental, academic and commercial," said Eileen Smith, an employee at UCF's Institute of Simulation Technology.
For Allred, who teaches a class in pain management nursing at UCF, patient interaction in pain management is especially personal to her. Aside from her doctoral study in the subject, Allred was the 2008 Poster Award Winner at the National Meeting for the American Society for Pain Management Nursing.
Her study on simulation technology opened an opportunity to incorporate teaching pain management in a different medium to nurses who may not want to go back to a traditional classroom setting.
"I know that when I sit in a classroom or meeting, if I'm just sitting there listening, after about 20 minutes my mind begins to drift," she said. "And that's true with nurses too. I thought if I could come up with a way to make it a little more fun to learn, they may learn more and integrate what they've learned into their practice."
The new pediatric simulator, which will feature child patients and their parents, will help educate nurses on how to communicate not only with children, but also with their concerned parents.
This type of learning reflects a trend that many nursing students may have already encountered and learned from. For Natassia Mortimer, using simulation practices in the nursing program at UCF has become commonplace.
"We've done three or four simulations," Mortimer, a senior in the accelerated nursing track at UCF said. "They're really helpful. It gives you the closest look at what it's like. I think it's really useful."
After the prototype was created through the scripted scenes, the development of the new simulator began at UCF's Institute of Simulated Technology. Smith and Michael Carney are in charge of the creation of the new simulator at the Media Convergence Lab, and they work with Allred on the new device.
Smith and Carney were also part of the team of traditional and 3-D artists who helped to create the original prototype simulator.
"The actual creation of the 3-D models, or assists, took only a couple of a weeks or two," Carney said. "However planning how we wanted the patients to look and behave while in the simulation took about three weeks of planning, implementation and collaboration between the designers and subject matter expert [Dr. Allred]."
For Allred, her experience as a staff nurse beginning in 1988 has helped create a clear and accurate image for nurses to make the simulation more realistic.
For aspiring nurses like Mortimer, who is also a mother and can relate to parents of pediatric patients, this improvement in communication will benefit the relationship between nurses and parents.
"A lot of people look at nurses as ‘you don't know what you're doing, give me a doctor,'" Mortimer said. "But what they don't realize is that nurses are the ones who have to nurse you back to health. Nurses are there to advocate for the patient."