Nurses in training at Penn State Mont Alto have one more tool they can use to gain hands-on experience.

The Penn State Mont Alto Summit Health Nursing Lab was dedicated and a maternal simulator named Lucina made her debut last week.

Lucina is a lifelike, 5-foot, 9-inch female mannequin weighing 111 pounds. The state-of-the-art "woman" includes a 5.5-pound fetus and can be programmed to simulate a variety of birthing scenarios from a normal delivery to obstetrical emergencies, providing students with the ability to practice their nursing skills and develop critical thinking and clinical skills with no risk to real patients.

"I think it's amazing," said Angie Long, a senior nursing student from Chambersburg. "It's just awesome to be able to see the movements of the 'baby' and getting to actually see it as it moves through the birth canal."

Each simulation is controlled by the instructor who sets the birthing scenario. Vitals of the mother and infant are displayed on a monitor as students make decisions and deliver care.

If they don’t do the right thing, their patient may perish during the simulation, but no one is at risk. Lucina can simply be reset and the situation can be practiced again and again until students master the scenario.

"The power of having a simulator is working through simulation and being able to stop and have conversations as to why we are doing this," said Sherri Stahl, senior vice president of hospital services and chief nursing officer.

Penn State Mont Alto's nursing program has educated nurses since 1991 and has graduated more than 1,000 registered nurses. About 140 students are currently enrolled in the program.

"We have done simulation in nursing for as long as I can remember, but this is the next level," said Carranda Barkdoll, Penn State Mont Alto nursing program director. “Lucina is the only wireless high-fidelity childbirthing simulator that can provide vitals for both the birthing mother and child, giving instructors the ability to train nursing students on all stages of delivery as well as for the rare emergency. Our nursing graduates will be prepared to recognize any situation and respond appropriately,” she said. "You practice not until you get it right, you practice until you don't get it wrong."

Lucina was purchased from CAE healthcare. Summit Health’s gift of $125,000 helped purchase Lucina, along with training and incidentals and additional extended warranty options.

“We are proud of our partnership with Summit Health. The leadership and board of Summit Health should be applauded for their visionary leadership in supporting nursing education,” said Francis Achampong, Penn State Mont Alto chancellor. "One of our goals is to impact our slice of the world in Franklin County and beyond. One of the ways we can do that is to enhance the health of those in Franklin County. I think through this, we can do that."