Seniors in UCF’s College of Nursing start the semester much differently than other students. While other UCF students take notes in lecture halls, the student nurses begin their semester with a Skills Lab exercise meant to challenge their thinking skills as well as their performance of clinical skills.

Led by an instructor, the students enter the lab one-by-one and choose their scenarios from a cup. Before administering care, the students are required to review their mock patient’s orders and medications, making any corrections or notifying a physician if necessary. They conduct an assessment on the patient manikin, and perform the appropriate procedures based on their assessment. Some ‘patients’ require an IV drip, while others require injections and tubes or catheters. To practice patient etiquette, the students must also ask the manikins how they feel and talk to them about the procedures they are receiving. Each step is then documented in the mock patient’s file.

Encountering life-like situations in a controlled environment helps the nursing students become fully prepared as they begin their clinical rotations in area hospitals and other health care agencies. “This practice allows the students to become acquainted with the everyday duties of a full-time nurse in practice,” explains Dr. Paul Desmarais, a UCF nursing instructor.

After completing the exercise, UCF nursing student Andrea Long says she feels much more confident going out into the community knowing her nursing skills were checked-off by an experienced nurse. “The Skills Lab exercise gives UCF nursing students a great advantage,” added UCF nursing instructor Christina Amidei. “These life-like manikins have the weight and anatomical structure of the humans they will again be treating. Skills and techniques are perfected in the practice lab with manikins to ensure the students will perform with excellence in the community,” Amidei says.

The college’s skills lab is  fully equipped with medical equipment including hospital beds, IV stands, and manikins of all ages. These life-like manikins are treated as actual patients with symptoms and ailments. Assessments and procedures are administered to the manikins as they would be to real patients.

Contributing Writer: Heather Robbins