Stories from the hospital bed Life and times of a hospital test dummy By Dylan Dulberg Multimedia Editor Studying to be a nurse or a doctor is a task that requires a lot of trial and error. Unfortunately, there is not an endless list of volunteers, dead or alive, willing to be guinea pigs for nursing and medical students to practice on. And while a student can learn to diagnose and treat conditions by studying these conditions out of a book, nothing can beat real, hands-on experience. That’s why Oakland University has recently begun using an alternative method to fix this problem -- medical test dummies. Now, instead of waiting for a volunteer or a cadaver to roll in for practice, students can put down the textbook and pick up the stethoscope, practicing their newly-learnt knowledge on inanimate plastic patients. The dummies come equipped with intricate programming that allows them to be externally controlled by an instructor on a computer off to the side, ‘infecting’ or ‘afflicting’ the dummies with a wide variety of ‘conditions’ for students to diagnose. Once the dummy’s condition is locked in via computer, the students can attempt to diagnose and treat the dummies; prodding, poking, and treating their way to a medical diagnostic education. The dummies themselves, though, are anything but dumb in terms of their intricacy. They can display most common conditions a young doctor will find on their rounds, including but not limited to basic things like elevated, slow, or irregular heart beats, arrythmias, soreness, broken bones, sore throat, difficulty breathing, and more impressively complicated manifestations of disease, like actual varicose veins that appear on the legs of the dummy when prompted.
While the dummies don’t offer training in bedside manner, they offer training in almost every other facet of diagnostic education. Through the use of these dummies, hopefully the next generation of OU medical graduates will be more than ready for the real world. PICTURE BY PICTURE - TOP: A dummy sits back awaiting examination. The dummies possess many human characteristics, such as a face and a haircut, meant to simulate realistic human patients. LEFT: The software that controls the dummy’s conditions is extremely intricate, including data on every single part of the dummy’s body, as well as vitals and various statistics on their current diagnostic session. RIGHT: A BP-compression measurement cuff is affixed to the dummy’s right arm, meant to measure the blood pressure of the dummy, simulating realistic human treatment. BELOW-LEFT: The Human Health Building, new to campus this year, features five floors of state-of-the-art medical education tools, with the test dummies located on the upper floors. BELOW-CENTER: A stethoscope is used on the dummy. On the other side of the room, an instructor punches in a number to the software interface, giving the dummy an elevated heart rate. BELOW-RIGHT: Aside from the adult dummies, there are also child dummies and even baby dummies. While the adult dummies are more intricate and come equipped with the facilities for many more conditions, the child and baby dummies still have the capacity to display a plethora of conditions. BOTTOM-LEFT: On the more impressive end of the dummies’ capabilities, a software prompt by the instructor can provoke the appearance of varicose veins on the dummy, for the students to evaluate and diagnose.