SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Sylacauga High School (SHS) Health Sciences program is in its fourth year of providing valuable Career Tech training in allied health curriculum. During this time, the department has purchased four adult-sized simulator mannequins through grant funds, and has recently acquired their first infant simulator.
The life-size simulators are equipped with electronic components that can do different scenarios. For instance, students can monitor lung function, listen for breathing patterns, check blood pressure and pulse, and catheterize mannequins to practice patient care skills. The mannequins can be programmed to simulate different cardiac situations and provide feedback on other conditions such as arrhythmia and anterior/posterior lung sounds. One highly-specialized mannequin simulates advanced life support functions for patients with critical care needs.
With its latest addition of the infant simulator, Health Science students will be learning pediatric care. “Many of the students are nervous about giving an IV or injection to a baby,” said instructor Lisa McGrady. “Being able to practice on the infant simulator will help them overcome that nervousness,” she explained.
McGrady pointed out the mannequins in her classroom are also the same mannequins used in college nursing and medical programs. The classroom has separate phlebotomy arms and hands for students to practice drawing blood and starting IVs. Additionally, the classroom is equipped with hospital beds for each mannequin, over-bed tables, bedside tables, scales, and privacy curtains donated through the generosity of Coosa Valley Medical Center. The classroom itself simulates the look of a regular healthcare setting. The students have also given a human name to every simulator, making the experience of working with the mannequins more real. The mannequin then becomes a true patient in their care.
Since the health science program began at SHS, it has grown every year and this year approximately 200 students will be taking classes in this field. In addition to learning health care skills, students have the opportunity for specialized training toward earning credentials in EKG testing, Patient Care, BLS (Basic Life Support instruction), and Lifeguard Certification.
“Many of the students start out in this program not knowing if they will like it or not. It has been a turning point for many students in deciding to pursue a career in healthcare. The simulators give them a valuable opportunity for hands-on experience to build their skills and confidence. It is so exciting to see how far the health sciences program has come and to watch it grow every year,” McGrady said.