HCU School of Nursing Receives Grant for New State-of-the-Art Birth Simulator

Houston, Texas, Dec. 6, 2023Houston Christian University (HCU) School of Nursing and Allied Health students will now gain hands-on experience in the birthing process thanks to a grant funded by The Cullen Trust for Health Care.

The grant enabled the HCU School of Nursing to purchase an innovative birth simulation system consisting of a life-size expectant mother capable of mechanically delivering a newborn manikin, complete with umbilical cord and placenta. The system enables nursing students to engage in all facets of the birthing process, including monitoring the expectant mother’s blood pressure, heart and breathing rate, cervical dilation and head descent of the newborn manikin, as well as post-delivery assessment of the newborn.

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to have a real “live” birth right here at HCU. Of course, it’s simulated, and we know it’s not a real person but it gives students the experience of participating in the nurse’s role during a live birth. It’s such a good opportunity where students can actually have hands-on experience without actually being in the hospital setting,” said Dr. Carol Lavender, Dean of HCU’s School of Nursing and Allied Health.

The state-of-the-art, wireless simulators, funded by a generous grant from The Cullen Trust for Health Care, are manufactured by Gaumard, a company that designs simulation-based healthcare education and training solutions to facilitate safe and effective training opportunities for healthcare students and professionals.

“This technology provides the students with a safe training environment to learn care in these specialty areas of nursing and helps the students to become reflective learners and develop critical thinking skills,” said Blake Swanson, HCU Assistant Professor and Simulation Laboratory Manager.

The high-fidelity simulators feature heart and lung sounds, chest respiration movements, palpable pulses, and eyes capable of blinking. The expectant mother is integrated with technology that allows professors to convey voice responses to students through the manikin during the delivery process. The newborn can be configured to turn blue to indicate the need for emergency intervention during the simulated birth process.

Angela Willis, Assistant Professor of Nursing and Undergraduate Program Chair, shared excitement for the new simulators and the opportunity it gives her students to step into the role of a registered nurse (RN) in an innovative way.

“Students often learn from their mistakes more than they learn from doing things right the first time – that is the beauty of simulation,” said Willis.

Daniel Prieto, a third semester HCU nursing student, who recently completed clinicals at a local hospital, shared his professor’s sentiments.

“Being able to have all the textbook complications performed here in a safe environment where you can see all the things that could go wrong is a great opportunity before going into the real world,” said Prieto.

Swanson, who wrote the specifications for the grant, believes the simulators will enhance learning for nursing students and prepare them for their future careers in nursing.

“The learning curve for new nurses in the hospital is steep. I hope that the HCU Nursing Simulation and Skills Lab is able to help flatten that curve as our graduates enter the workforce by developing the critical thinking, clinical judgment, and hands-on learning needed while in our program,” said Swanson.

# # #

About HCU School of Nursing & Allied Health

The School of Nursing and Allied Health (SNAH) at HCU focuses on the importance of treating the whole patient—and teaching the whole student—to show the same care, compassion and global impact shown by Jesus. Among nursing schools in Houston and beyond, HCU is a recognized and respected leader. The School offers undergraduate and online graduate degree programs in nursing and in kinesiology with specializations in sport management and wellness management. For more information, visit the School of Nursing and Allied Health website.

About Houston Christian University

For more than 60 years,Houston Christian Universityhas equipped students to lead, collaborate, and embody a deep sense of spiritual purpose. The university offers a wide range of majors, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs, as well as NCAA Division I athletics in the Southland Conference. Located in the heart of one of the nation’s largest metropolitan centers, HCU’s culture of excellence molds the next generation of educated disciples to be pillars in their communities, preparing them to think critically and biblically as they impact the world.