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Gift will update Francis Birthing Suite

man in lab working with simulation manikin

In the world of high-fidelity simulation, 10 years old is, well, practically ancient.

That’s the age of UIC Nursing’s “Sim Junior” manikin, which is used to teach students about pediatric care in the Nita & Phil Francis Birthing Suite, situated in the state-of-the-art Schwartz Simulation Lab on the Chicago campus. Although the Francis Suite and Schwartz Lab are only four years old, some of the equipment pre-dates the new facilities.

In addition to the outdated pediatric manikin, the lab needs newer and more diverse simulation equipment to stay abreast of current trends and increases in the volume of students who can use the lab, says Katie Vanderzwan, DNP ’17, MS ’06, APRN-BC, CHSE, director of the Schwartz Lab and Clinical Learning Resource Center.

Thankfully, a generous donation from Nita and Phil Francis will allow UIC Nursing to purchase much-needed upgrades over the next three years. That includes new Sim Junior and SimMom manikins.

“We believe it is important to support upgrades to the Francis suite because everything, living and robotic, wears down with use,” says Nita Francis. “The UIC Nursing faculty and students deserve the most up-to-date and well-functioning teaching tools. We want UIC Nursing to continue to produce leaders in nursing skill, innovation and care.”

These high-fidelity manikins – which can simulate breath sounds, heart tones, pulses and more – can cost between about $30,000 and $85,000 each, depending on the model.

graphic depicting new elements of birthing suite

“There are newer manikins with higher levels of realism and diversity to meet the needs of our students,” says Vanderzwan. “By replacing these, we can provide a more immersive simulation experience.”

The gift will allow the college to purchase manikins with a range of skin tones, creating a more diverse manikin pool. Plans also include upgrading computer software used to run simulations, and adding task trainers, which simulate a wide variety of fetal presentations and will aid the midwifery faculty.

Vanderzwan says the Francis Suite is one of the college’s highest traffic simulation suites. It’s not just used by midwifery students but is versatile enough to be used in an array of simulations for pre-licensure students as well.

“lf we have more of these manikins, we can run more sims simultaneously and fully utilize our lab to its maximum potential,” Vanderzwan says.

SEE: All College News