Students use robots for long-distance communication


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) –  It looks like something right out of the Jetsons.

Double robotics technology is right here and now in the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative Simulation center. The robots are used by long distance nursing students to participate in patient simulations with their in-person counterparts.

Nursing instructor doctor Kathleen Huun joined us from Portland, Oregon. She says the technology has improved even since obtaining it last year.

“We thought this type of modality would work very well and in fact it has,” said Dr Kuun. “Over the year and half that we’ve had these they’re made much improvements on them, they have a wide-angle lens on the robot so you can see better and they drive faster now.”

Students working in person say that it doesn’t take long to get used to the the machines. Nurse Tiffany Gough in Baltimore says that the extra presence goes a long way toward communication.

“The cool thing about this is that in the simulation rooms, you can be in there with the other students,” said Gough. “Everything can go wrong and you’re there. a lot of times at one of the hospitals closest to me, we typically fly a lot of high priority patients out.”

If you can work a mouse and keyboard, you can operate the robot. A camera displays your surroundings on the computer and a screen built into the robot displays video of yourself.

Indiana State University nursing student Aaron Schaidle says the ease of access to experienced nurses is invaluable.

“All of these distance students have more experience than us bachelor students,” explained Schaidle. “We definitely appreciate all the insight they can give us, even if they’re a thousand miles away.”

The robot use ranges from house calls to helping sick kids attend school.

Just don’t be weirded out if you see one at your next check-up.