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Denver nursing program uses manikins with different skin tones

For decades, nursing and medical students have used medical manikins to learn techniques for patient care.

DENVER, Colorado — Mannequins at retail stores often have lighter skin tones, leaving customers feeling like they're not represented by retailers, and it was the same for some students in nursing programs.

For decades, nursing and medical students have used medical manikins to learn techniques for patient care. Emily Griffith Technical College recently purchased manikins with various skin tones for its College of Health Sciences and Administration, to be more inclusive and reflect the greater community.

Students in the nurse program use the manikins to simulate tasks such as giving patients bed baths, brushing teeth and other duties that they will one day be responsible for in a medical setting.

"It’s important as a CNA to have empathy," said student Rosa Casias. "It’s important to be able to work with different types of people, to let go of gender bias, to let go of any kind of bias that you may encounter, whether it’s racism, whether it be cultural bias, stereotypes."

Emily Griffith Technical College received a $50,000 grant from the HCA Healthcare Foundation to diversify their manikins – $40,000 went to buying the manikins, which can can cost thousands of dollars, and the remaining $10,000 was used toward DEI training for health sciences.

"I think it’s important because of the community that we serve, when we go out into the field and we are in the hospitals and long-term care facilities," said Marie Quinn, director of nursing at Emily Griffith. "We want our manikins to represent the patients that we take care of."

Quinn attended the same program 20 years ago that she now runs. When she was training as a nurse, she didn't see any mannikins that looked like her.

"We also want those manikins to represent the students that we have here in our school and for them to see ourselves and their families members," she said. "For those who are of lighter skin tones, our students that are here, it gives them the opportunity to start working with these diverse patients, that they maybe haven’t had an opportunity to work with." 

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