UCF creates ‘Pain Game’ to help nursing students

UCF’s nursing-school officials have developed a new program to help nursing students. “The Pain Game” was created to help students decide how they should treat their patients. It helps students choose whether they should give their patients medication and painkillers, or if they should simply distract them from their discomfort.

Dr. Kelly Allred, the assistant professor at UCF’s College of Nursing, says the purpose of this is to get their student nurses to think of about other things besides medication to help their patients. Allred says, “Sometimes propping up a patient with a pillow, turning on the TV or other activities can be just as effective as pain medication for managing pain.” Pills shouldn’t always be the first answer, and with this program students are learning just that.

The Pain Game involves a virtual hospital room with two simulated patients, Mary Anderson and Derek Robinson. The nurses, who happen to be UCF students, care to their patients needs depending on their complaints. Each patient complains of a different type of pain and the student nurse can pull up the patients’ charts and decide how to treat the problem.

The program took about a year to complete and $5,000 to produce. Allred has already tested the program with a few of her students, and is happy with the result. She plans to unveil the Pain Game to her pain-management class in March.

UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training at Research Park has already started working on a second program with Allred. This program features pediatric patients and their parents. Florida Hospital provided UCF with a $10,000 grand to help with this upcoming program.

“The challenge is having the nurse and parent agree on the amount of pain a child is in and then determine the best method for alleviating that pain,” says Allred. Communicating with parents is usually an issue, and with this new program, nurses will learn to work with parents and children on how to solve their needs.

The new program will feature two sick children, a boy and a girl, and their parents. With the generous grant from the hospital, UCF designers have more of an opportunity to make more realistic characters, and bring their new virtual reality to life. Allred expects this program to be complete by the summer.

Both programs aim to gather data, like attitudes and feedback from students that will help to fund future programs.

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