Red Yoder, an elderly man living on his own, has diabetes and a painful toe wound. Two UNCG Nursing students are at Red’s apartment to check on him.

Stephanie Faulk and Marianne Williams, both seniors, check Red’s blood sugar levels, take a look at his toe, and assess his living situation. They are alarmed when Red tells them he’s mixing Benadryl and a few beers to help him sleep. And they note the junk food packets, mostly carbs, strewn around Red’s living room, drawing mice and cockroaches.

Not to worry: Red’s not real. He’s a hi-fidelity simulation mannequin. And his apartment is part of a new simulation space — the Simulation Center for Experiential Nursing Education (SCENE) — that takes up most of the fourth floor of the Moore Nursing Building.

The fourth floor was renovated to expand Nursing’s simulation space. SCENE — created with $300,000 of departmental funds and donations — officially debuted Nov. 19 with an open house.

Stephanie and Marianne’s visit with Red has been videotaped so they can review it later, self-evaluating and getting feedback from a faculty member. Both students would love to spend more time with patients like Red.

“We can really reflect on how we did and really identify areas we can improve on,” Marianne says. “It’s a good way to connect classroom to clinical. It’s a step between the classroom and working with a real patient.”

“Body language speaks better than our voices sometimes,” says Stephanie.

Just down the hall from Red’s apartment, is a control room. Today Susan Hensley-Hannah — clinical assistant professor and simulation coordinator — is at the helm. She can see, hear and record the students’ visit with Red. She can control Red’s body, manipulating his heart rate and blood pressure or inducing a cough or wheeze. And she can provide Red’s voice through a voice modulated microphone that makes her sound like an elderly man. Really.

Julie Kordsmeier — also a clinical assistant professor and simulation coordinator — says students will get to know Red over time, tracking him through hospitalizations and declining health. A faculty member will also portray Red’s daughter-in-law and caretaker, Judy.

“It’s an evolving care story,” Kordsmeier says. Red’s story was scripted by the National League for Nursing (NLN). NLN offers development, training, testing and grants for nurses and nursing faculty.

Kordsmeier, a 25-year nursing veteran, says students will care for simulated patients across the lifespan — including newborn and child mannequins — and with a wide variety of afflictions. In addition to Red’s apartment, there is a pediatric room that simulates a hospital pediatric unit and a two-bay adult care room.

Next week, Kordsmeier says, the child will have a ruptured appendix. Meanwhile.The baby’s breathing issues may point toward pneumonia.

Simulations give nursing students an advantage, Kordsmeier says. They allow all students to experience identical situations, situations hand-picked by instructors, and to take the lead in critical scenarios where they might otherwise be pushed aside.

“Simulation is so beneficial,” Kordsmeier says. “It provides a safe environment, a safe place to make a mistake and to learn from it.”

A longitudinal study by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), published in July, was a groundbreaker for the efficacy of nursing simulation.The large-scale study evaluated almost 700 nursing students in 10 pre-licensure programs in diverse areas of the country, dividing them into three groups — those who spent less than 10 percent of clinical hours in simulation, those who spent 25 percent of clinical hours in simulation, and those who spent 50 percent of clinical hours in simulation.

The NCSBN study found “no significant differences among study groups regarding end-of-program nursing knowledge, clinical competency, or overall readiness for practice.” NCSBN researchers concluded that “all evaluative measures produced the same results: Educational outcomes were equivalent when up to 50 percent of traditional clinical experience in the undergraduate nursing program was replaced by simulation.”

Clinicals can cause anxiety in students, putting them on edge. “We want them to want to keep coming back, not to dread it,” Kordsmeier says. “They can say, ‘I did this well, but I need to repeat that.’”

Around the corner from Red’s apartment is a smaller room containing the nursing school’s new Anatomage table. The 300-pound, $70,000 portable table, is one of only about 70 in the world and 50 in the U.S.

Anatomage is a person-length, touch screen digital device which allows students to dissect and explore body systems using high-resolution, life-size scans of real cadavers. For instance if students want to compare a healthy lung with a lung affected by cystic fibrosis, they can call up those images on Anatomage.

And then there are the less high-tech simulations.

One, an end-of-life situation with actors playing same-sex partners, had students in tears. “It was powerful to see,” Hensley-Hannah says.

Another simulation had Hensley-Hannah disguising herself as a 78-year-old woman who had fallen.The students who treated her, even checking her vital signs, were in for a surprise.

“They didn’t recognize her,” Kordsmeier says.

Story by Michelle Hines, University Relations