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May 8, 2024

How to Teach Nursing Students to Use the Nasogastric Tube


Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

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To be successful in practice, nurses must learn how to use a nasogastric (NG) tube, whether feeding a patient unable to eat by mouth or pumping a patient’s stomach contents.

There isn’t one way to teach mastering the NG tube. Rather, combining many modalities will give students the exposure needed to use the tube in real time. We’ve compiled a variety of ways institutions can help nursing students learn to insert and manage the NG tube. 

Ways to Teach the Nasogastric Tube

1. High-Fidelity Manikins 

These sophisticated manikins can simulate real-life scenarios and patient responses, providing an interactive environment for students. They often feature realistic anatomy and can demonstrate complications like coughing, vomiting, or resistance, which help 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 NG tube or be able to participate in using it in clinicals. 

2. Immersive Virtual Reality

One way to learn about the NG tube in simulation is through the high-fidelity method of virtual reality. UbiSim’s immersive VR platform, filled with peer-reviewed scenarios, was built by nurses for nurses and includes this equipment. It can be accessed in existing scenarios or added to customized scenarios using the Intuitive Editor. 

NG tube secured to nose of baby in VR

In immersive VR, learners can observe the color of aspirated stomach contents and receive further information about volume and texture via a pop-up. 

NG tube secured to nose of patient in VR

3. Videos

Watching a video alone isn’t enough to learn everything, but when used alongside other modalities, it can be helpful. Level Up RN demonstrates how to insert and remove an NG tube, including drawing gastric residual and checking the pH. The instructor also provides additional tips about clamping the NG tube and using the blue pigtail.

4. Task Trainers

These are partial-body manikins or specific anatomical models focusing on the nose, throat, and stomach to practice NG tube placement. Task trainers provide a hands-on approach that is less expensive than high-fidelity manikins but still offers valuable tactile feedback.

5. Standardized Patients

Actors trained to simulate real patients can be used to enhance communication skills and patient interaction during NGT insertion. This method helps students practice explaining procedures, gaining consent, and managing patient discomfort or anxiety.

Final Thoughts

Each of these modalities offers unique benefits and can be used in combination to enhance the learning experience in nursing education, particularly for critical skills like NG tube management.

Interested in trying UbiSim in your healthcare institution?
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Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

As an integral center of UbiSim's content team, Ginelle pens stories on the rapidly changing landscape of VR in nursing simulation. Ginelle is committed to elevating the voices of practicing nurses, nurse educators, and program leaders who are making a difference.

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