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Mother-Baby Simulators Inspire Nursing as a Career

Middle School Students Take the Pulse of 'Patients'

Nursing Bus
Eighth-grader Shelby Phillips checks Noelle’s heartbeat while seventh-grader Mya Lamarche looks on.

By Karen Angelo

Nursing's “On the Move” laboratory bus, complete with two high-fidelity, realistic mannequins - mother Noelle and newborn Hal - gave students at the Sullivan Middle School in Lowell a peek into the world of nursing.

The 34-foot bus travels around the area to show students what it’s like to be a nurse. During the demonstration in October, Asst. Prof. Margaret Knight and Associate Prof. Jacqueline Dowling used hand-held electronic devices to operate the mother and baby mannequins. The students listened to heartbeats and reacted to the crying baby and the talking mother. Check out a photo gallery of the visit.

“For a few minutes after the school day, young students step into the bus for a preview into the world of nursing,” says Knight who operated the mother. “It’s such a great way to get them thinking at a young age about a career in nursing.”

A small group of seventh- and eighth-graders watched and listened as Knight selected commands on a device that changed the mother’s language to Spanish. Two students were able to translate into English that Noelle said “her heart is beating fast.”

“One of the area’s biggest challenges is providing culturally competent care, especially in the Lawrence and Lowell area,” says Dowling who operated the baby. “Students who have grown up learning two languages and who understand different cultures can make a real difference in delivering quality care in our communities.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the UMass Lowell Nursing Department a $298,990 grant in May 2011 for the “On the Move for Nursing's Future” mobile simulation laboratory to reach out to diverse and underserved populations in the Merrimack Valley. The nursing bus is also used as an adjunct simulation laboratory for UMass Lowell nursing students.