Advanced Pediatric Simulator Innovates Columbia University’s Nursing Program

Photo by: Sharon Sobel

To meet the health care needs of pediatric patients, nurses require specialized skills. Apart from recognizing the physical differences between adult and pediatric patients, nurses also need to be highly skilled in communicating with these patients. As a result, the Columbia University School of Nursing is introducing an innovation in patient simulation to their curriculum.

Pediatric HAL is the world’s most advanced pediatric patient simulator. He is the first pediatric simulator who can reproduce lifelike emotions, facial expressions, and speech to help health care professionals develop effective communication and diagnostic skills.

Pediatric patients are often too young or shy to fully and accurately articulate their illness or feelings. Additionally, treating pediatric patients can induce immense stress and anxiety in any health care professional. This is especially true for those who are new to the job and have had limited clinical contact with pediatric patients.

Poor communication skills have been linked to 80% of serious medical errors. Therefore, by including Pediatric HAL into their curriculum, Columbia’s nursing program will be one the few in the country and the first in New York state to provide their students with a tool to develop good pediatric communication skills as a part of their curriculum.

Kellie Bryant, DNP, executive director of simulation and assistant professor at the Columbia University School of Nursing, says “{by adding the simulator} to the curriculum students will practice how to handle difficult situations that require strong communication skills, such as how to communicate a serious medical diagnosis to a young child.”

Moreover, good communication skills are linked to better patient outcomes, reduced complaints, and higher moral/job satisfaction. As Bryant stated, the nursing students will now have the means to practice a skill that enhances the patient experience and gives nurses the self-confidence to treat pediatric patients. This means Columbia will produce nurses who are better trained and better prepared to handle the rigors of treating these patients and ensure better outcomes.

However, Pediatric HAL is being used to develop more than just communication skills. HAL’s realistic neurological and physiologic features allow the students to practice diagnosing and treating a wide variety of ailments.

Unlike in the traditional clinical setting where some ailments are rare so students might never experience them until they enter the real world, Pediatric HAL allows the curriculum and training to be holistic and cover a broad range of ailments and procedures.

As professor Bryant argues, “This robotic technology will help us to enhance our students’ clinical skills and help them become better-prepared nurses and nurse practitioners, improving patient outcomes and safety through more accurate diagnosis and treatment.”

Moreover, HAL’s cutting-edge robotics allow nursing students across multiple disciplines to practice advanced-level procedures. For example, the simulation curriculum now allows Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist students to practice intubation and delivering anesthesia since HAL emulates real lung functionality.

PediatricHAL has allowed Columbia’s School of Nursing to take an impressive step forward in how their students learn and how they prepare for the real world. With the innovations to their curriculum, the program is on track to produce some of the best-prepared nurses in the country.

To read the full article, please visit the news page at Columbia’s School of Nursing website.  

To learn more about Pediatric HAL or any of Gaumard’s other high-fidelity patient simulators visit the Gaumard website.

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