Articles

Virtual Hospital Helps Students Get Hands-on Experience

By: Nikki Newbrough, KWWL
Date Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
 

WATERLOO (KWWL) - Hawkeye Community College is going a little bit further than textbooks nowadays -- with a virtual hospital.

Tracy Elliott, coordinator at Hawkeye's Virtual Hospital, can now have her students demonstrate on a mannequin that operates almost like a real patient.

"He has heart sounds," said Elliott. "He has lung sounds. We can speak through this little guy. We can start an IV on him."

For respiratory therapy student Andrea Shaefer, it's a way for her to get hands-on experience before heading out into the real world.

"It is nice to have full control of the situation and just work and have that time. At a hospital, time is still critical, but here we can just take the time to figure out what is the best way to help our patients," Shaefer said.

The state-of-the-art technology allows the students to see the patient's breath, take their blood pressure and even give them medication. It also allows instructors to give students more leeway in making decisions.

"(Instructors) will stand off to the side, and we have to figure it out just like we would in a hospital because they are not always there," said Shaefer.

As the health care field grows, Hawkeye Community College saw the virtual hospital as an essential part of their education.

"Our goal here is that we can teach our students to have really great assessment skills and, if they can intervene early, we can prevent the patient from ever having to experience that type of situation," said Elliott.

An open house for the virtual hospital will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, November 13, 2012, at Grundy Hall on Hawkeye Community College's campus.