Debra Spunt, 50

University of Maryland nursing educator was a pioneer in the use of high-tech mannequin teaching devices

March 13, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Debra L. Spunt, a University of Maryland nursing educator who was a pioneer in the use of high-tech mannequin teaching devices, died of cancer Friday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Pikesville resident was 50.

Ms. Spunt was a national figure in use of the technology known as computerized human patient simulators. One of the devices is known as SimMan, and one of a woman giving birth is called Noelle Maternal. The full-scale models replicate stroke, shock, heart attack, diabetic coma and childbirth, single or multiple.

Born in St. Louis, Ms. Spunt was raised in Randallstown and graduated in 1975 from Randallstown High School. She earned bachelor of science, master of science and doctor of nursing practice degrees from the University of Maryland, where she taught for nearly 23 years.

FOR THE RECORD - An obituary in Tuesday's editions for University of Maryland nursing educator Debra Spunt omitted from the listing of survivors her father, Emanuel Spunt of Delray Beach, Fla.
The Sun regrets the error.

At her death, she was an assistant professor and director of the Clinical Simulation Laboratories, which she established at the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

"She was a perfectionist only because she wanted the best for others," said Cantor Judith K. Rowland of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, who delivered the eulogy at the funeral Sunday in Pikesville. "She advanced the education of nurses with her vision of a type of training that didn't exist before."

Ms. Spunt directed 28 clinical simulation laboratories that occupy a wing at the school's West Lombard Street building. The labs will be named in her honor, the school announced yesterday.

"She made a tremendous impact upon the school in her years here and on the education of the next generation of nurses throughout the state," Janet Allen, dean of the nursing school, said yesterday.

A 2003 article in The Sun about the birth-nursing program noted the mannequins simulating patients and the one simulating a woman giving birth.

"She's not a dummy; she's a human simulator, with moving parts," Ms. Spunt told a reporter.

Friends recalled yesterday that Ms. Spunt began her nursing education in practice labs -- how to give a patient a bath or how to give an injection.

"She saw that there might be a better way to do this, and when the technology came out, she embraced it," said Debbie Shpritz, a nursing colleague and friend. "She believed in experiential learning -- and maybe in making mistakes -- before taking care of the actual patient."

Friends said Ms. Spunt was not technically inclined.

"She wanted quality patient care and good patient outcome. That was important to her," Ms. Shpritz said.

Ms. Spunt wrote scientific articles about the use of simulators. She also lectured about them in many states and in England and Korea. She was a co-founder of the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning and its first president.

"She knew so much. You could be with her just in passing and feel as if you had learned something," said Priya Saha, president of the nursing school's Student Government Association. "Her presence was always welcoming. You never felt scared or intimidated by her."

Survivors include a 15-year-old daughter, Ellen M. Spunt; a brother, Sidney Spunt of Baltimore; and a sister, Gail Garner of Greenwood, Del.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.