HANDS ON: Professor Kerry Reid-Searl, the creator of the Mask-Ed program, with two of her creations.
HANDS ON: Professor Kerry Reid-Searl, the creator of the Mask-Ed program, with two of her creations.

Full-body suit mask simulations give unique learning insight

MARGARET Neill-Ballantine has come face to face with Central Queensland's very own Mrs Doubtfire.

Ms Neill-Ballantine has been lucky enough to be a part of CQU's Mask-Ed program, where nurses are able to interact and care for an educator who assumes the role of a patient by wearing a hyper realistic full-body suit.

She believes the program has given her a huge advantage ahead of her second year of study.

"The Mask-Ed program gave us a safe environment without the risk and consequences that you might experience in a hospital,” she said.

"It was a brilliant program that allowed us get some great experience in our first year.”

The Mask-Ed program differs from other medical patient simulations by employing the use of hyper realistic full-body suits that can completely change the physical appearance of the educator within.

Ms Neill-Ballantine said at times it was so convincing, she forgot she was treating an educator.

"Sometimes we completely forgot that we were treating Kerry (creator),” she said.

"In one scenario, Kerry made a mixture of substances which replicated faeces which were smeared across herself and the room. She was a very good actor.”

Margaret Niell-Ballantine has loved her experience in the Mask-Ed program.
Margaret Niell-Ballantine has loved her experience in the Mask-Ed program.

Professor Kerry Reid-Searl is the creator of the program and often dons one of her many alias body suits. She agrees the effects on students can be profound.

"Students develop relationships and re-visit their patient's cases,” she said. "Although there is an educator in the suit, some students develop amazing rapport with the characters.”

Since the program's conception in 2010, Prof Reid-Searl has noticed the program yielding great results.

Mask-Ed has also caught the eye of the global medical community.

Prof Reid-Searl has regularly travelled to New Zealand, the UK and the US to spread the program through three-day seminars.

Mask-Ed has trained more than 200 educators to be able to conduct the program with nine CQU educators now able to share the load with Prof Reid-Searl.

Mask-Ed has started a new focus on intimate patient care which aims to give nursing students exposure to the more confronting sides of the profession.

Students entering the Mask-Ed program will now be exposed to scenarios that include showering people, and being exposed to urine and genitalia.



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