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Virtual System Helps Students Draw Blood

Submitted by on May 15, 2011 – 12:00 pm

Imagine learning and practicing drawing blood without touching a human. The students in Northern Essex Community College’s allied health programs are doing just that with the use of a Laerdal Virtual Phlebotomy System purchased with a grant from the Webster Family Fund through the Essex County Community Foundation.

Virtual Phlebotomy is a comprehensive, self-directed learning system for training phlebotomy from the novice to the expert level.

Bonnie Puosper of Newton, N.H., Danielle Salie of Amesbury, and Monica Hernandez of Lawrence watch fellow student Ercilia Abreu of Lawrence work the virtual phlebotomy machine.

Students practice drawing blood by inserting needles into a device that simulates what the patients would feel and what the students would experience when collecting blood specimens. The students can immediately review the results on the computer screen. The virtual patient’s actual response is dictated by the way the student handles the device. Responses can include bruising, bleeding, or vein collapse, providing students with a 3-D graphic virtual reality. The system offers different scenarios for patients of different ages. In addition, the virtual phlebotomy system tracks the learner’s progress and focuses on learning objectives.

This provides students with a virtual experience before progressing to practice on lab partners and real patients.

“From our previous work with experiential learning using simulators in our other labs, we know how much our students benefit from being able to use this type of technology while in a safe learning environment,” says Jackie Long-Goding, dean of health professions at NECC. “Their self-confidence soars and this carries over into their ability to function as competent, entry-level phlebotomists when they go to clinical. Patient care is enhanced. This is a goal not only for the college, but also our clinical agency educational partner as well.”

Northern Essex is committed to the success of every student. Allied Health programs at the college provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for safe, effective entry level practice in the medical field of their choice. In order to succeed, students need access to the best educational tools possible.