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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Medical Assisting students improve skills with SimMan

November 12, 2015

MA Sim Man TemeculaTemecula campus’ SimMan – an expensive teaching mannequin built to simulate human body functions, such as heartbeat and respiration – will now be shared between the Respiratory Therapy and Medical Assisting programs.

“The Respiratory Therapy program on our campus uses the SimMan and other simulation mannequins to help assess patients and perform procedures on a regular basis,” says Shannon Koh, Academic Dean. “We wanted to expand its use to our Medical Assisting students because we recognize what a great resource it was for the students.”

Historically, Medical Assisting students would practice procedures, such as taking blood pressure, pulse, respiration, on each other. SimMan brings a sharper and more consistent result to the examination table. Equipped with dual stethoscopes, instructors can hear exactly what each student hears and better help them to interpret those sounds.

“SimMan is certainly more accurate,” says Sandra Schiffner, MA instructor. “The more times you take someone’s blood pressure, the more it might fluxuate, but SimMan’s does not fluxuate.”

SimMan can be used beyond ‘taking vitals’. Students can perform CPR on him, and check oxygen levels to make certain they are administering this life-saving technique effectively.

“We are in the beginning stages of using this very important piece of equipment,” says Schiffner. “This is very valuable to hands-on education.”

It is easy for someone new at taking blood pressures, for instance, to misunderstand natural heart and body sounds for those of blood rushing through body channels. The dual stethoscopes allow instructors to help students identify sound origins, even as they program SimMan to simulate various health crisis clues.

Currently three Medical Assisting classes, or about 100 students, are honing their body-monitoring and interpretative skills using SimMan. For some it is a revelation.

“This experience positively changed my experience with taking vitals, and took me out of my comfort zone of practicing on the same students time and time again,” says Kayla Ramirez, Medical Assisting student.

The primary goal for using SimMan is for medical students to develop ‘an ear’ for taking accurate vitals.

“I’ve had students say, ‘Oh my gosh, Mrs. Schiffner, I get what you’re trying to get us to hear now,’” says Schiffner. “It gives them definite confidence that they know exactly what to listen for.”

“I enjoyed using the SimMan to take vital signs,” says Brenda Aviles, Medical Assisting student. “I felt like it was a real human being; the heartbeat, the pulse and the respiration seem so real.”

Sandra Schiffner loves the ‘ah-hah’ moments she gets from her students. “So that’s what I’m supposed to be hearing,” students say to her.

Now if SimMan could just make a good double mocha latte.

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