Midwifery students benefit from new high-tech simulation equipment
IT’S a far cry from Call the Midwife - University of Bradford students are using augmented reality and a high-tech mannequin to learn how to deliver babies.
The department has just taken delivery of Lucina, an interactive birthing mannequin, which provides students with “as real as possible” an experience.
Lucina has a pulse so students can keep check on her vital signs, her belly hardens with contractions and she can give birth. Her eyes, which move and are light sensitive, can be programmed to show certain conditions, for example to appear bloodshot or jaundiced.
She can be intubated to give students experience of emergency situations and she can even cry out in pain.
Lucina can be used in conjunction with the University's new Microsoft HoloLens sets, an Augmented Reality system which allows students to simultaneously see what’s happening inside Lucina’s body.
The images from Lucina’s uterus appear as a kind of hologram overlaying what the student can see in the room, giving them a fully rounded picture of what the patient is going through, inside and out.
Emily Bee, Assistant Professor in Midwifery, said: "By using simulation in such a way, we can create an immersive environment for students to put their skills into practice in a safe environment.
"They can carry out procedures that they will see in practice, many of which are emergency-based. These are not necessarily situations that occur often, but students need to be ready to deal with them if they occur.
"In a real situation, with real patients, these would be time-critical situations, meaning the students would not have the opportunity to pause and discuss what to do or try different techniques.
"Lucina provides as real an experience as possible in the classroom while the HoloLens technology means students are can see more than what they would in real life because they can actually see what’s happening inside the body."
Lucina and the four HoloLens sets cost £85,000 and the department is planning to expand its simulation equipment in the near future.
Emily added: “This high-end simulation equipment is one part of our innovative new curriculum. One of our big advantages here at Bradford is that we work closely with practice. The team has a range of different clinical backgrounds, which provides a diversity of experience, and we are very student-focused, meaning we listen to student feedback and adapt. It’s not a one-size fits all approach, which very much aligns to the university’s philosophy of inclusion."
The simulation equipment has already proved very popular with students. Harriet Mckean, who is studying an MSc in Midwifery Studies and who has delivered 24 babies on placement so far, said: "I think it’s really helpful to see, especially with the headset, not only what’s happening in front of you but the anatomy as well. It really helps with your learning.
"Previously, you would have had to visualise what is happening, based on what you know about anatomy, but to actually be able to carry out virtual internal manoeuvres, to see what works and what doesn’t and to take your time, is really important.
"It’s really beneficial to consolidate my learning and I definitely feel more confident going into practice having used it."