The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 700 women die every year in the U.S. from pregnancy-related complications.
Heartland Community College is training its nursing students to think on their feet through maternal mortality simulations. The college held its annual childbirth hemorrhage scenario Thursday.
Jennifer O’Connor, the college’s dean of health sciences and director of nursing education, said running students through scenarios like a birth with a hemorrhage will better prepare them for saving mothers in the real world.
“What are the things that need to happen and what are the emergent problems that you’re going to be caring for? What do those things look like and what are the processes?" she said. "It’s much easier to do that if you get to practice it in a lab.”
Data gathered by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists shows the maternal mortality rate increased 26% between 2000 and 2014.
O’Connor said the simulation leaves room for students to make mistakes and learn from them before beginning their clinicals.
“When you’re in that clinical experience and you’re in that room with that mom giving birth, you’re not really thinking about, ‘Oh, is the fundus properly situated?’ or any of those things. You’re really thinking about, ‘Oh my gosh, wow, this is an amazing human experience that I get to be a part of,’” O'Connor said.
Janice Westpfahl is an obstetrics nurse at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center.
“Even one is too many," Westpfahl said. "Even though we may only see a life-or-death situation five of six times a year, we will see much smaller hemorrhages much more frequently, but it’s important to be prepared for even one.”
Once a Heartland nursing student herself, Westpfahl was the birth trainer helping the student nurses through the hemorrhage simulation.
She said it’s not perfectly lifelike. Every birth is different. But Westpfahl said the training gives the students a glimpse into the realities of the labor and delivery unit.
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