One nursing student’s desire to be able to Skype in on a nursing education moment, sparked an idea with three Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON) educators. The trio worked together to use telepresence robots made by a Californian firm as an instructional tool for high fidelity or life-like clinical simulations.

Jacqueline Vaughn, clinical instructor; Ryan Shaw, assistant professor; and Margie Molloy, director for the Center for Nursing Discovery, developed the idea.

“As our Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program became a fully distanced-based program, we had to get creative in how we could offer simulation experiences to students who couldn’t physically be present,” says Molloy. “Having the telepresence robots is an innovative approach to allow our distanced-based students to have access to simulation scenarios and collaborate with on-campus learners.”

The telepresence robot, called the Double, was developed by California-based company Double Robotics. The robot gives individuals a physical presence when they can’t be there in-person. The DUSON robot is named “JaMMeR,” a play on the names of Jacqueline, Margie Molloy and Ryan.

The robot can be controlled from anywhere in the world via a desktop computer, laptop or mobile devices such as iPads or iPhones. An iPad becomes the face of the robot, and it is mounted on a tall mobile pedestal. Robot operators can rotate and tilt the pedestal to control his or her point of view using their computer or mobile device keyboard.

“As telemedicine becomes more prevalent, it’s important for nursing students to understand the process and this will help with that,” says Vaughn. “Using our telepresence robots for simulation allows our students to learn and practice providing high-quality and effective health care services without losing the in-person connection nurses establish with patients.”

Rémi Hueckel, DNP, CPNP-AC, FAANP, assistant professor and faculty coordinator for the pediatric and neonatal nurse practitioners majors in the MSN Program, is the first faculty member to pilot the hybrid robot program in her classes.

It’s a challenge

Nurse practitioner (NP) students have the opportunity to collaborate with the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) Program students during simulations. Via their remote locations, NP students use JaMMeR to communicate with the ABSN students about the patient’s condition, be a clinical resource for the students and provide clinical guidance in the simulated patient’s care.

“Though novice in the role of nurse practitioner, NP students are experienced nurses who develop their leadership, coaching and problem-solving skills during collaborative simulations with the ABSN students,” Hueckel says.

“It is a challenge to coach someone through a skill without reaching in and just doing a demonstration. This technology really allows the learners to continue to develop in their new roles and forces NP students to communicate effectively. They are present in the simulation, but have to rely on their ability to communicate to provide reassurance, direction and clinical information during the scenario.”

Another positive benefit of the robot is the capability to bridge educators across disciplines. Shaw is a nurse researcher, and Molloy and Vaughn are nurse educators.

“As a nurse researcher it’s critical that we have a way to test our research,” says Shaw. “Nurse educators and clinical nurses give us an avenue to test our research. They are at the forefront and are able to provide us with real-time feedback. This project is a great opportunity to be in the forefront of innovative medical practices, and I couldn’t have done this without them.”

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