Mask-Ed Simulation at CQUniversity
CQUniversity's Mask-Ed program, established in 2008, is a simulation modality whereby an informed educator or health care professional dons a silicone prop and transforms into another person.
One of the areas that has been missing in our undergraduate programs, is the ability to teach students to touch the untouchables and that is dealing with very intimate human care. How do you deal with faeces, urine, genitalia, showering people for the very first time. So for first-year students coming in, when we know that their first clinical placement is going to have to be involved in that sort of care, we were missing in the preparation of that. We had used mannequins which are false, which are not real and so I decided that I would start to use the full props and dress up where students could shower me, bath me, change my pads, whatever else that needed to occur. So that’s essentially the ability to be able to prepare students for the real world in the safety net of a classroom with characters, these Mask-Ed characters whom they know, whom they are also connected to, because in essence the characters are vulnerable and that allows the human connection.
We didn't have that patient nurse realism. We had a mannequin that would lay there, a mannequin that wouldn't talk back. It wasn’t very realistic and when Kerry came in as this character, they became a real person and we got to fall in love with these people and they became our patients that we then had feelings towards. We wanted to care for them, they became our friends. But in a safe environment where we could go out and do nursing and make those mistakes and know that we weren't going to kill the patient, that we were going to learn from them. I feel so much more comfortable finishing my degree and going out into the real life world now. I feel that I have learnt some valuable skills through Mask-Ed that I couldn’t have learnt without having that real life character there.
What we were trying to understand were, what were students’ experiences before and after this. So that in reality, we assumed that students would be concerned about not being able to be prepared to do these skills out there in the real world and what our research found out was indeed that, but even more. We found that by exposing students to this sort of intimate care in the safety net of a classroom, not only built on their confidence but they felt safe. They also felt safe in terms of the patient, in terms of identifying things that were risks for the patient. They also gained confidence and they started to feel that they were doing real nursing care in this safe environment of the University, which then would prepare them for the real world of practice.
When we go out into the real world, it feels like we have been there and done that with Stanley. He has basically prepped us for becoming graduate nurses.
Mask-Ed will never stop. Mask-Ed continues, needs to have people around it that is going to continue with the innovation and the designs. I think the more people who embrace it, the more ideas we have, the more research that we have. If somebody had of said to me eight years ago what the outcomes would have been for Mask-Ed, I would never have believed them.
To me, Stanley is Stanley, to me, Muriel is Muriel and I’m really going to miss them when I graduate.