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Tips & Tricks
June 20, 2024

How to Teach Nursing Students to Use the Pulse Oximeter


Nini Chen

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To be successful in practice, nurses must learn how to use a pulse oximeter. The pulse oximeter is an essential tool for healthcare providers to understand patients' oxygen saturation. Most importantly, it helps to detect lung disease and heart disease by examining the oxygen saturation level.

There isn't one way to master the pulse oximeter. Rather, combining many modalities will give students the exposure needed to use it in real-time. We've compiled a variety of ways institutions can help nursing students learn to use one. 

Ways to Teach the Pulse Oximeter

1. High-Fidelity Manikins

These advanced manikins can simulate real-life patient scenarios, such as low oxygen saturation levels, providing nursing students with valuable practice in using and interpreting pulse oximeter readings. The realistic anatomy they offer also helps students learn to adjust their techniques.

Research has found that using simulation is more effective than in actual practice because nursing students might not have been exposed to the pulse oximeter or be able to participate in using it in clinicals. 

2. Immersive Virtual Reality

VR platforms like UbiSim offer high-fidelity simulations developed by nurses. These platforms include scenarios that teach the application and interpretation of using pulse oximeters on patients. They allow nursing students to receive real-time feedback and experience various patient conditions.

3. Videos

Instructional videos can complement hands-on practice by providing detailed guides on using the pulse oximeter. Tutorials such as ATXN demonstrate proper techniques, common issues, and tips, which can be valuable resources for students.

4. Task Trainers

These anatomical models focus on specific body parts, offering hands-on practice with pulse oximeter placement. Task trainers provide affordable and tactile feedback allowing nursing students to practice repeatedly and build proficiency.

5. Standardized Patient

Utilizing actors trained to simulate real patients enhances both technical and communication skill in treatment. Nursing students can practice explaining the importance of pulse oximeters, obtaining consent, and ensuring correct interpretation of the device. This allows nursing students to improve their tactile skills and patient interaction abilities in using pulse oximeters.

Final Thoughts

Each of these methods provides unique benefits and can be combined to create a comprehensive learning experience for nursing students. This ensures that they are well-prepared to use pulse oximeters effectively in real-world scenarios.

Interested in trying UbiSim in your healthcare institution?
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Nini Chen

Nini pens stories on the rapidly changing landscape of VR in nursing simulation. Nini is committed to elevating the voices of practicing nurses, nurse educators, and program leaders who are making a difference.

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