Lucinda howls, begging for an epidural. Students at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) tend to her ‘pain’ as she writhes on a hospital bed.
In reality, Lucinda feels nothing. She is a €75,000 (US$88,000) ‘birthing’ robot designed to simulate childbirth.
RCSI bought Lucinda to enhance surgical education for its pupils. The robot, along with the college’s other new facilities, aims to provide an “emotionally rich educational experience for students and surgeons alike”. The robot is just one of many hi-tech mechanisms at the college’s new building in Dublin.
Lucinda is both life-size and lifelike. She has a real-to-the-touch “skin” and an anatomically correct body.
Much like pressing fast-forward on an unspeakable home video, the robot replicates labour and childbirth at great haste. Lucinda’s labour lasts a mere three minutes.
The enviously quick birth was programmed to three minutes to increase the number of students who are able to use her. If Lucinda’s birthing period lasted for hours, like most women’s do, fewer pupils would have time to benefit from her.
In the three minutes, Lucinda cries out in simulated agony, pleads for pain relief and eventually bears a lifelike baby. Students are even able to feel Lucinda’s contractions, much like the real thing. The baby is of a realistic size and weight. A placenta is birthed shortly after the child.
Lucinda’s cost pales in comparison to the college’s new €80 million (US$94 million) building, where the robot lives within the 12,000sq ft simulation centre in the building, which covers three of its 10 floors.
The centre has a surgical and training suite which homes clinical skills labs, a mock operating theatre, as well as clinical training wards.
— June Shannon (@juneshannon) October 18, 2017
Since 2003, RCSI has used a simulation model to educate undergraduates but the new facilities hope to “move postgraduate surgical training in Ireland to a new level”.
The building has been in the making for the last three years. It is designed to provide “professional healthcare training in multiple learning and study environments”. It creates “a campus environment” for its 3,200 medical, pharmaceutical and physiotherapy students.
The students are busy exploring and learning from their new building.
Meanwhile, in the time you’ve just taken to read about her, Lucinda has given birth again.