Avkin: How Far We’ve Come

Technology now allows for human interaction in a safe, skills-based environment.

Share This Post

I never saw myself as a CEO of a company. Yet here we are. Avkin entered its sixth year, released its eighth wearable device, and offers an entire educational services suite. I have an incredible and passionate team working alongside me each day toward our shared dream. So, while we’ve come far, I would be lying to say we’ve fully arrived.

However, it’s always good to look back at our humble beginnings and celebrate just how far we’ve come.

A Lesson in Fidelity

I was working in an emergency room when I found a job posting for the University of Delaware School of Nursing. I was intrigued by the clinical skills and simulation lab position and had wanted to give back to the next generation of nurses.

When I started, I was handed two large manikins with instruction to integrate them into the curriculum. After a quick online search, I developed a cursory understanding of what I was supposed to do. I also quickly realized that my students truly struggled to communicate with the manikin, a problem that interfered with accomplishing learning objectives.

Armed with my giant, lifeless, plastic people, I decided a code blue scenario would be an ideal simulation. It seemed perfect; no communication was required with the manikin. All the students needed to do was perform CPR. This would turn out to be my first true lesson in simulation fidelity.

During one of our simulations that day, our learner came in, and the simulation was moving as expected. She was performing chest compressions when I called the code overhead to begin postmortem care. However, once the student heard the date and time of expiration, she took her hands, smacked them into the chest of the manikin, and says “That’s it. You’re dead. I am done.”

Thankfully, the look of horror on my face was hidden by the one-way glass, but I could not escape the thought that this manikin represented a human being. This was someone’s father or brother, and here my student was abusing a corpse. It was quickly apparent that my students were not associating the manikins with human life; Was I teaching my students to take care of plastic and not people?

People, not Plastic

I needed living people involved in my simulation. I tried to contact the theater department on campus over several semesters but never could get a response. But, I was forced to put this on the back burner, where it stayed for some time.

Interprofessional simulation was the newest topic in the simulation world, and I sought to conduct one such simulation. In the planning phase, I showed the Physical Therapy educators my manikins, but they quickly dismissed the ability to use them. Instead, their learners needed to get patients out of bed and examine muscle tone. As an alternative, I offered my idea of using theater students, and I got lucky. They had a contact they said would be perfect.

I met with Allan Carlsen with the University’s theater department. I fully expected him to just send me a few volunteers. Instead, we wound up starting an independent study for four of his students!

That spring, we conducted our first interprofessional simulation between nursing and physical therapy, with theater students as the patients. The evaluations were through the roof; the students loved the opportunity to work with live people. Walking in the parking lot later that day with Allan, he said, “this is going to be a boiling pot you have trouble keeping the lid on.”

At the time, I couldn’t see what this program would turn into. But then we began to expand with psych, diversity, and interprofessional simulations, all happening with theater students enrolled in a college course. My learners were much better served by this arrangement, and even the theater students were honing their skills. I was delighted in my own little world.

An “Aha!” moment

Unfortunately, I was recalled to work with the manikins after my replacement abruptly left. While I was disappointed, this opportunity was the perfect example of the difference between simulations with manikins and simulations with people.

One of the last simulations for the semester was a tracheostomy simulation. The students were expected to come in, evaluate, and then suction the patient, Mr. Jones.

This particular group entered the room, and after introducing themselves, asked for Mr. Jones’s name. As you’re aware, tracheostomy patients are non-verbal on account of a device in their trachea, so I remained silent. The students looked at the quiet, lifeless manikin and declare, “Oh my goodness. He is dead!” In their haste, they caused an occlusion which eventually led to chest compressions.

A far cry from suctioning the trach, I sat back in the control room wondering how we got here and whether there was some way to get a theater student to wear the trach.

Inspired by my success working with the theater department, I started to reach out to the school’s engineering department. I was quickly connected with Jenny Buckley, who conducted a senior-level course where engineering students had 15 weeks to take a project from concept to prototype. At first, there were some objections, namely, “electronics and fluids do not mix in products.” However, because they were in a course, I was able to tell them that they had 15 weeks to figure it out.

And figure it out, they did. I was excited to receive my prototype that looked like it was held together with glue and gum (I say this in the most loving way possible.) When I finally put it on my theater student and had my nursing student suction, I had my Walt Disney moment. What was in my head was happening in front of me.

Taking it to the Masses

I started inviting simulation companies to visit the University to see our product. I honestly thought there would be a bidding war for this revolutionary step forward, but it did not happen that way. No one showed serious interest, so I signed up for a poster presentation at the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH).

A few months later, we received an email telling us we won first prize. We won for Innovation and Technology.

It turns out we entered a contest.

And we won.

First prize.

A small team and I made our way to New Orleans to give a ten-minute presentation about what we had created. They began calling out the winners, and we waited patiently to be recognized. They called up third place: Yale. We beat Yale.

Second place was called for biomedical engineers from Harvard. WE BEAT HARVARD?!? It took everything in me to not jump for joy.

And finally, it was our turn. Our small but mighty team conducted our presentations to much acclamation. People were coming up to us, offering business cards and wanting to know when they could purchase one. ‘Now,’ I thought, ‘this is when we’ll get our bidding war.’

Well, then do it.

Later, on the exhibit floor, we talked with one of the simulation companies there. I showed them all of the business cards we received that day.

“I could have sold 50 of these out of the back of my van,” I told them.

“Well, then do it.”

At that moment, I knew if I didn’t drive this idea forward, it would never make it to the masses. I couldn’t wait for anyone else to adopt my dream. So I put on my CEO hat and started a company because I knew it was the right thing to do for the future of healthcare simulation.

Our small but mighty team persevered through the trials that come with starting a business and being a disrupter in a market. We found others who share our passion for preparing the next generation of healthcare providers. We’ve moved into our own building with in-house manufacturing to ensure quality, a Research and Development team dedicated to providing realism wherever possible, and a driven team serving educators worldwide.

(Visited 435 times, 1 visits today)

Subscribe To Our Blog

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore

Avkin’s Elite Simulation Package at Towson University

Towson University is the most recent buyer of Avkin’s Elite Simulation Package. This purchase is to support the expansion of hands-on simulation initiatives that come with the opening of their new College of Health Professions Building, opening in Summer of 2024. This state-of-the-art facility is poised to be a beacon of modern education, equipped with

Simulationist's Guide to the Standards of Best Practice with Teresa Gore, Simulation Nation, Avkin Inc.

Simulationists Guide To The Standards of Best Practice

Teresa Gore PhD, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CHSE-A, FSSH, FAAN from HealthySimulation.com discusses the development of simulation standards of best practice in nursing education. The standards cover various aspects of simulation, including terminology, participant objectives, facilitation methods, debriefing, and evaluation. The standards have been adopted and supported by numerous organizations worldwide. The conversation explores the impact of the

Get Your Resource


Get Your Resource


Get Your Resource


Get Your Resource

WEBINAR: Enhancing EMS Simulations Integrating OB for Comprehensive Prehospital Care

Get Your Resource


Get Your Resource


Get Your Resource


Avcare +


2 Year Protection Integration Support

  • Avkin Guarantee
  • All Benefits of AvCare and Integration Support
  • Priority Support: Your Fast-Track to Expert Assistance.
    • Premier benefits for tech support
    • Skip the que with priority turnaround
    • Ideal time slots for bi annual tune up
  • Loyalty Discount: Your Reward for Long-Term Commitment to Avkin.


2 Year Protection Integration Support

  • Avkin Guarantee
  • Simulation Guru: Personal Meetings to Integrate Simulators into Curricula.
  • Virtual Master Classes: Empowerment Courses Guiding You To Simulator Mastery.
  • Inner Circle Access: Your Gateway to Premium Educational Content.
  • Bi-Annual Performance Tune-Up: Maximizing Your Simulator's Potential.
Avkin Guarantee

Avkin Guarantee

1 Year Hardware Protection

  • Technical Support Plus: Unlimited Assistance for Seamless Simulator Operations.
  • Software Updates: Stay Up-to-Date with the Latest Innovations.
  • Parts and Labor: Comprehensive Support for Your Simulator Maintenance.
  • Shipping Assurance: Seamless Delivery at No Additional Cost.
  • Does not include intigration support
  • Does not include priority support
  • Does not include loyalty discount

Get Your Resource



Get Your Resource


Get Your Resource


Avtrach, a high-fidelity, wearable tracheostomy simulator, is designed to replicate an anterior thorax so tracheostomy care and suctioning can be authentically replicated in simulation. Through a Bluetooth connection between Avtrach and the Avkin app, an assortment of lung sounds can be changed at any time by the educator from the control room. These lungs allow for the Avtrach to be connected to a ventilator and the patient to be in line with suctioning.

Wearable Tracheostomy Simulator

Avwound, a high-fidelity, wearable wound care simulator, is the most significant technological advancement for wound care in the industry. Learners can assess, measure, document, and provide care for all four stages of pressure wounds in addition to an assortment of surgical wounds providing educators with maximum flexibility for wound care education.

Wearable Wound Care Simulator

Meant to replace the need for including bulky ineffective earpieces in simulation, Avband, is a smartwatch look-a-like for inconspicuous 3-way communication between the control room, patient, and Avkin simulators. An alert button on the side of the product allows the live patient to send a panic notification to the control room if they feel psychologically and/or physically unsafe at any time during the simulation.

Simulated Participant Cueing Device

With the world’s only fully-automated, wearable birthing simulator, Avbirth, you can now include learning objectives such as closed-looped communication with an interprofessional team and therapeutic communication with the patient and their significant other through all phases of labor and delivery. Avbirth pairs with the Avkin App, allowing a multitude of simulations to be performed, including additional challenges for the development of critical thinking, such as shoulder dystocia or postpartum hemorrhage.

Simulated Birthing Device

Avcath, a high-fidelity, wearable urinary catheterization simulator, seamlessly replicates the human urinary system. The interchangeable male (circumcised or uncircumcised) and female genitalia allows learners to practice various types of urinary catheterization while also practicing essential communication skills. Our genitalia is made with high-quality silicone, allowing learners to use betadine and lubrication right out of their kits.

Wearable Urinary Catheterization Simulator

Avline, a wearable central line simulator, delivers a high-fidelity patient experience for a multitude of central venous care (CVC) simulations. This innovative simulator has two options for central venous treatment and care, a right subclavian triple lumen or a left subclavian implanted port; each option is removable, allowing the educator flexibility with learning outcomes.

Wearable Central Line Simulator

Avstick, a wearable IV simulator worn as a left-arm sleeve, allows learners to practice high-fidelity IV insertion during simulation. The wearable simulator cues the live patient wearing the sleeve through haptic vibration when the needle first pierces the smart skin. Multiple layers of woven plastic have been integrated into premium silicone to protect the wearer from any harm during the simulation.

Wearable IV Simulator

Avtone, the world’s only wearable auscultation simulator, offers a compact and lightweight design, comfortable for the live patient to wear. An anatomically correct chest piece allows novice and advanced students to identify proper landmarks just as they would in the clinical setting. Volume controls allow learners and educators to pinpoint the finer details of the actual patient recorded sounds contained within the Avtone.

Wearable Auscultation Simulator

Avthor, a wearable chest tube care simulator, replicates the intrathoracic pressures needed to realistically teach the assessment and care of a patient with a chest tube. When pairing the Avthor with a live patient, the simulation can include repositioning, transferring, and/or ambulating a patient with a chest tube.

Wearable Chest Tube Care Simulator

Get Your Resource


Get Your Resource


KBPort's BPSim is a blood pressure cuff simulator. Used just like any other blood pressure cuff, the readings are controlled via a smartphone app. It can be programmed for any blood pressure range, including hypotension, normal, pre-hypertension, hypertension (stages 1 & 2), and hypertensive crisis.


Getting accurate vital signs is critical when assessing a patient. With Innov2Learn's Thermometer and Oximeter devices, your learners will use real devices to capture and record simulated readings. No longer will you have to break fidelity to provide vital signs to your learners

Innov2Learn Pulse OX

Quality training is the most important element of working with live people in simulations. An untrained simulated participant (SP) can challenge the efficacy of your learning opportunities. A well-trained simulated participant (SP) can bring your simulations to life in ways you never thought possible. With all of this in mind, training an entire group of SPs can be time-consuming and feel intimidating.


Innov2Learn's training devices function the same as any thermometer or oximeter you would find in a clinic. Your learners will take vital signs using real devices with readouts you control via Bluetooth. You can use a smartphone app or desktop computer.

Innov2Learn Thermometer

Get Your Resource


Get Your Resource


Get Your Resource


Get Your Resource


Get Your Resource