Innovation is central to Meridian Tech’s mission. In fact, it’s one of Meridian’s core values. With a focus on integrating new ideas with courage, it’s no surprise that Dustin Hicks, Practical Nursing Instructor/Simulation Specialist at Meridian Technology Center, was recently honored for helping drive innovation in the organization.
Students in Meridian’s Practical Nursing program are the beneficiaries. Hicks developed a procedure that students can train on with one of the school’s SimMan 3G medical manikins. Now they are able to use a chest tube to measure chest drainage output and practice basic chest tube management techniques, something they will encounter when they enter their future profession. The National League for Nursing Simulation Innovation Resource Center (NLN SIRC) recognized Hicks’ innovation through its HomeGrown Simulation Solutions contest.
The HomeGrown Simulation Solutions program honors the self-made, creative adaptations and original simulation scenarios that educators using simulation manikins have developed. The new procedure uses a chest drainage collection system, a Jackson-Pratt drain that is used to collect bodily fluids from surgical sites, tubing, SimMan3G Wound Kids, nasal cannula tubing and one pair of hemostat clamps.
“The SimMan3G is a great tool for learning, but its design lends itself more easily to emergency medical care than day-to-day nursing care,” Hicks explained. “The modification that I made provides a simple way for nursing students to practice, and, ultimately master, a common procedure they will encounter with patients.”
Hicks has led the school’s simulation efforts since 2009. Meridian’s simulation facilities include a four-room mock hospital equipped with three Laerdal SimMan 3G manikins, SimJunior, SimBaby and a PROMPT Birthing Simulator. The life-like manikins are primarily used in the school’s health training programs, but they are also available for customized business and industry classes with medical professionals and first responders.
Innovation Across Campus
Innovation is not limited to one program at Meridian – it’s taking place all across the campus.
As an example, students in the Biomedical Sciences STEM Academy brought new dimension to a recent anatomy and physiology lesson. Using the Tinkercad computer aided design program and a 3D printer, they created 3D models of various muscle and cell structures they had been studying.
This innovative application of technology allowed students to gain a better understanding of what the cells look like in the body, according to Morrison student Noah Spence.
“It’s one thing to see the cell structure on the page and learn about its properties,” he said. “It’s entirely different to hold a model of it, see how each part forms and recognize how different each type of cell is.”
Additionally, innovation can be seen in the form of peer mentoring programs that pair second-year students with first-year students for the school year. These programs allow returning students to demonstrate their technical skills and grow their leadership skills. In the Welding and Masonry programs second-year students also rotate as classroom job site superintendents. With the assistance of the instructor, they help ensure lab safety, spot-checking work for quality and help manage project timelines.
“We try to replicate what it’s really going to be like for them when they leave the classroom and enter the workforce,” Welding Instructor Joe Steele explained. “When they leave the program, I want to be sure they are career ready. This means they have the welding skills they need for the industry, and the soft skills they need to work as a part of a team and be a good employee.”