3D Printed Medical Training Tools Helping Nursing Students At The University of Alabama

A high level of innovative development has been taking place at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Students from the School of Engineering have come up with 3D printed medical task training tools for use by the undergraduates at the College of Nursing. This will allow the nursing students to safely practice medical procedures on 3D simulators.

Due to the growing trend of 3D-printed medical models being adopted in task training, Clinical Associate Professor (Dr. Liori Lioce) at the institution’s College of Nursing decided to build medical models for the university. Lioce collaborated with Norven Goddard, a leading research scientist at the university’s Systems Management and Production Center (SMAP). The two sought to come up with 3D models that were cost-effective, while at the same time fitting the limited resources at the institution.

In order to achieve their objective, Lioce and Goddard put together a 3D Specialist Team. This constituted students from both the engineering and computer science faculties, who helped with the production of the medical task trainers. A cricothyrotomy trainer was the first tool they created. This is a critical tool that is used for emergency procedures where a patient’s airway needs to be cleared. The next tool was the onychectomy trainer, which is a tool that is used in the removal of thumbnails. A 3D printed vein finder was also developed, a product that conventionally cost hundreds of dollars. However, with the help of the students and open-source design files, the tool cost only $6 to create.

These efforts have been able to help the university economize on medical training equipment that would have cost around $6,000. The nursing students now have more opportunities to repeatedly practice specific skills using the tools, before going into the workforce and completing these procedures in real-life scenarios.

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