DES MOINES, Iowa -- For the past 10 years, medical students at Des Moines University practiced exams on medical mannequins, with the only problem being they looked less than realistic.
“They suspend their disbelief and that they treat it like they would a normal person… that’s a fair amount of heavy thinking that your brain has to do is to pretend like this is real and then remember all of the medical information on top of it,” Des Moines University Simulation Center Manager Alison Kreuger said.
That is why in the past month, DMU has added new mannequins that look hyper-realistic.
Even though the new mannequins look realistic they do not have the same capabilities as the old “doll-like” mannequins. The old mannequins were dynamic in the sense that they blink, breath, and have pulses throughout its body.
The new mannequins can have their vitals and sounds simulated through special telescopes. The school has multiple realistic mannequins including an infant, a middle-aged African American man, and an elderly man and woman. Officials said the variety helps students learn different ways of treatment for all kinds of people.
“It’s hard sometimes for our students to get into rotations where they see everything and so we can guarantee at least by controlling the simulations that they’ve had, that they’ve had an experience with a heart attack, or with a pulmonary embolism or some sort of a GI condition, neurological condition,” Kreuger said.
They also simulate different situations by adding sounds and even odors to the room as well as putting moulage, or makeup on the mannequin to show different conditions.
“Maybe bruising on the skin, discoloration, there are some conditions where the skin has a yellow tint and so we will tint the skin yellow or give them a rash or hives. We want it to be as consistent as what they would see in real life so they can put all the pieces of the puzzle together,” Kreuger said.
DMU said students not only learn how to treat different medical conditions with the pretend patients, but they also learn more about good bedside manner.