Full-Motion Video/Audio Adapter Enables Nursing Students to Learn by Simulation

How do you make a $10,000 grant go the farthest? That was the dilemma facing assistant professor Eleanor Toney, a teacher of medical surgical nursing at Georgia College's School of Nursing in Milledgeville, Ga. Toney, a registered nurse with a master's degree in nursing, received a Helene Fuld Health Trust grant from the Fuld Institute of Technology and Nursing Education. The grant was for the purchase of educational technology and Toney knew exactly what she wanted -- PCs suitably equipped to run videodisc players. There are many clinical simulations on videodisc that would greatly aid her students. The problem lay in the cost of such machines. If she bought from the Fuld Institute, which offered systems, or direct from some "brand name" vendors, her $10,000 grant would get her only one, or at the most, two systems. Toney sought a better deal. A Better Deal Following a tip from a software publisher, Toney discovered CompuVid, of Medley, Fla., and their School Board II add-in card for IBM-compatible 286 and above PCs or PS/2 models. School Board II takes full-motion video and audio from standard sources such as videodiscs, VCRs, camcorders or live broadcasts and synchronizes that input signal with VGA graphics created on the PC. The result can then be displayed in a window of any size on a standard VGA or multi-sync monitor while the audio can be played on a stereo sound system. No other VGA board is needed for the PC. School Board II provided the missing link and CompuVid provided the better deal. "For the money, I got three new computers," says Toney. "They even put them together for me." Total cost for one CompuVid system, including the videodisc player, was around $3,000 at that time, she says, which was the fall of 1993. Georgia College's School of Nursing d'esn't have a computer lab yet but they are slowly acquiring the components to build one. Thus, Toney has the School Board II-equipped PCs, along with the videodisc players, on carts. "I wheel them into the classroom when we do a simulation," she explains. About 90 students per quarter are exposed to the videodisc-based training. Toney says she runs three or four per quarter, at least two simulations per class. Uniquely Valuable The videodiscs offer uniquely valuable medical training experience, notes Toney. Their video-based clinical simulations let students diagnose and make decisions without fear of endangering real patients. They also give exposure to elements that, on a routine basis, most students wouldn't be able to see. Simulations are extremely realistic. "It's not quite like General Hospital, but it gives you that real feel," says Toney. Paid actors and accurate hospital settings are used; "even patients' skin color is good," she says. Health Sciences Consortium, of Chapel Hill, N.C., produces numerous nursing titles, as d'es the American Journal of Nursing. Toney uses discs on cancer, heart attacks, respiratory problems, and labor and delivery. The latter is a good example of the benefits provided. It moves through the whole process, giving students the chance to be exposed to an event that is difficult, at best, to arrange on a quarterly basis. Nothing But Praise About the quality of the picture provided by School Board II, Toney has nothing but praise. "It's really worked quite well for us," she says, "even though we're using it for just the one focus, videodisc." School Board II's multimedia capabilities go far beyond Toney's narrow use. "There are more things that you can do with the School Board than I know what to do with," she admits. And with School Board PRO making its debut in March, those capabilities will increase. For nursing students at Georgia College, however -- and likely, their future patients -- the technology is already making a dramatic difference.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/1995 issue of THE Journal.