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UNG rolls out "body doubles" as teaching, learning aid for nursing students

UNG rolls out “body doubles” as teaching, learning aid for nursing students
Katie Parrish, director of simulation for the College of Health Sciences and Professions, tests one of the "body double" robots with Shawn Rice, simulation tech, watching from another location.

This fall, the University of North Georgia’s (UNG) College of Health Science and Professions five newest teaching aides come with a warranty and an internet connection.

They are Double 2 telepresence robots from Double Robotics. The robots are essentially a rolling iPad with an audio kit, a 5-megapixel still camera, a video lens with a 150-degree angle of view, and a telescoping stand that adjusts from what would be an average person’s sitting position to full standing height, all the better to maintain eye contact with whoever it encounters. Through an internet connection, the "body doubles," as they are called, can be controlled remotely with another iPad, smartphone, or laptop computer, from the next room or half a world away.

Dr. Teresa Conner-Kerr, dean of UNG's College of Health Sciences & Professions, first encountered the body doubles in action during a visit to a virtual hospital at Indiana State University. She was impressed with the technology and was looking for a way for nursing students to participate in classes without being on campus.

"I thought how wonderful it would be for students to be able to join in a clinical simulation or procedure and participate from a computer or tablet," Kerr said. "It allows all of us to be in the room virtually without being in the room physically."

Kerr hopes to talk with UNG's clinical partners, Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Georgia, and Northside Hospital, based in Atlanta, about allowing the body doubles participate in clinical rounds.

Katie Parrish, director of simulation for the College of Health Sciences & Professions, said the body doubles can act as a teaching and a learning tool, especially in UNG’s nursing simulation center on the Gainesville Campus.

"We can bring into our classroom a student or specialist from another campus, from their home, or even another country for either a consultation or a diagnosis, and students can either be there in person, or watch and learn from a smartphone or laptop, anything with an internet connection," Parrish said. "It places our health care students into realistic clinical situations and immerses them in patient care in the safety of a simulated experience, even in online or alternate-campus courses."

Parrish said at less than $4,000 (not including the iPad) for each unit, they are an inexpensive teaching tool that can be used beyond the nursing program.

"I'm excited to see other uses for these units in our health care programs," she said. "I see our physical therapy students benefitting from these body doubles, being able to learn new techniques and protocols from a number of different resources that otherwise wouldn't have been available."

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