Patient simulator provides hands-on experience

to URI pharmacy,
other health care professions students
One of the first pharmacy colleges in country to have technology

KINGSTON, R.I. — November 29, 2001 — A 61-year-old-truck driver lies on a stretcher complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath. His medical history includes coronary artery disease, anxiety, hypertension, high blood pressure and an allergy to penicillin. He is overweight and he smokes. His medical situation is now in the hands of University of Rhode Island pharmacy students.

The truck driver is a computer-activated mannequin that acts and reacts much like a human patient. Known as the patient simulator, it breathes, has a heartbeat and responds to drugs. The patient simulator can be killed and can also be changed from an overweight truck driver to a pregnant woman.

“Professors can use the simulator to illustrate many different situations. Students can insert a trachea tube or inject a needle into the simulator’s chest for different medical problems,” said Biomedical Sciences Professor Robert L. Rodgers at the College of Pharmacy. “As professors, we can give the patient a heart attack, put him into shock, give him asthma or put him on a respirator.”

URI received the patient simulator in August thanks to a grant from The Champlin Foundations. The $120,000 grant, called the Pharmacy Technology Initiative, was proposed by URI Biomedical Sciences Professors Clinton O. Chichester and Rodgers.

The patient simulator will be used by pharmacy, physical therapy, exercise science and basic physiology students. Chichester and Rodgers also hope to get the College of Nursing and biomedical engineering students involved.

“The students will administer drugs, calculate dosage, recognize health risks and perform small procedures,” said Chichester. “This simulator is great for students in the medical fields.”

If the incorrect dosage of a drug is administered to a patient, the simulator will react accordingly. The simulator’s eyes also react to medical conditions and to light.

“There aren’t many schools in the country with the patient simulator. In fact, URI is one of the first pharmacy schools in the country to have it,” said Rodgers.

The simulator has stimulated great interest among health care professionals. Prospective students and families have also shown interest in the simulator.

“We’re noticing a difference in the students, too. They are learning more. With the simulator, they can see the effects of the drugs firsthand. They also can see different types of diseases and responses,” said Rodgers.

The Champlin Foundations has been a generous supporter of the University of Rhode Island for more than three decades, with grants exceeding $7 million. This past year alone, The Champlin Foundations donated $434,503 in grants to URI to fund four different projects including the patient simulator.

The Champlin Foundations are private foundations dedicated to making direct grants for capital needs to tax exempt organizations in Rhode Island. The foundations generally attempt to provide funds to those organizations serving the largest portion of the population.

For Information: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862, Sarah Emmett, 401-874-2116