Human patient simulators help teach anatomy and train for medical careers

He’s the perfect patient. He breathes, blinks and even bleeds. He doesn’t complain when the nurse makes a mistake. He doesn’t even mind when he dies.
His name is iStan and he’s the latest technology that is breaking new ground in the health care education field. Students at Cape Fear Community College are now using this robotic mannikin to learn about anatomy, health care and emergency medicine in a way never before possible.
The simulations are about as real as they can get. At first glance, iStan looks much like a regular medical mannikin – that is, until he starts breathing and talking. He can suffer from a wide variety of ailments and injuries – from headaches to cardiac arrest. His suffering is all in the name of education – and CFCC students and faculty are putting it to good use.
Instructors can program iStan to communicate his symptoms both through his voice and vital signs. He has a pulse, blood pressure, breathing pattern and eye reflexes that can give clues to what’s wrong. Once students determine the condition, they can work on finding the proper treatment. iStan even responds to simulated medication.
CFCC is putting this new technology to use in anatomy classes, nursing classes and EMT training.
“The iStan has changed the way we teach anatomy. Instead if studying lifeless skeletons and describing what symptoms a patient would experience, students can experience it for themselves, ” said CFCC anatomy instructor Mark VanCura.
VanCura not only teaches a class using the iStan, he recently co-authored a textbook published by McGraw Hill that serves as the teachers guide to using simulation manikins in the classroom. The book contains step-by-step instructions and dozens of scenarios that teachers can use with their own students.
The college is introducing other medical simulators throughout the college. The EMS program is using a SimMan simulator thanks to a grant from the Cape Fear Memorial Foundation. The nursing department has also purchased units to use to train students in its program.