Simulation is quickly becoming one of the key attributes of today’s nursing programs. Simulation labs allow students to gain hands-on experience without the stress of working with a real patient. The University of Saint Francis (USF) Crown Point knows there’s no better way for students to learn and practice skills so when faced with certain real life patient situations, they’re calm, cool, and collected.
The simulation lab features two patient simulators, one adult utilized for most of the simulations, and one pediatric patient also utilized for geriatric simulations. The 12 different simulations are used throughout the semester during nursing clinicals.
Lisa Young, Director of the Simulation Lab, recognizes that students are limited in what they can do when it comes to clinicals, and the simulation lab allows a safe place for students to practice the skills they’re learning.
“The point with simulation is to hit on certain situations that students may not encounter during a normal clinical situation in a hospital or things that are high frequency or high risk,” Young said. “It’s trying to recreate situations they may not have access to and allows for active learning where students can apply what they’ve learned in a lecture.”
The simulators have pulses, lung sounds, breath sounds, bowel sounds, and more, so that students can learn even the simple things like checking vital signs and interactions. The most important part of the process is the debrief, where students think through what went well and what could have been done better.
“The biggest compliment that can be paid to the process is when students come in and they’re not nervous doing it,” Young said. “We don’t expect them to be perfect when they come in here and take care of the patient, they come in and learn to do it better.”
The International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) is the mother organization that defines how to do simulation properly so that the process is standardized and consistent. Because each student might do the simulation differently, it’s important that they all leave with the same knowledge.
In a room next to the lab are the computers and faculty that make the simulation happen. Young often gets to play the voice of the patients and enjoys seeing the students react and treat the simulator as if it were real.
“I try to immerse myself in the role, and when I see the student make eye contact with the simulator and sincerely respond to what I’m saying and to what that patient represents, I’ll get goosebumps,” Young said. “That’s the most rewarding thing to me because I see them connect professionally to something you know isn’t real when you walk in.”
USF Crown Point has partnered with Franciscan Health to provide real and live medical records so that the documentation nurse in the simulation actually documents electronic medical records for the patient.
Marsha King, Dean of USF Crown Point, knows that simulation is becoming the standard practice in nursing programs throughout Northwest Indiana and is proud to offer her students one of the best.
“In a nursing program, it’s not just about memorizing data to pass a test, you have to be able to take that knowledge, apply, and analyze,” King said. “When they see blood pressure dropping and certain things are going on, they have to know what to do and how to assess the patient.”
The simulation itself may only be 15-20 minutes, but it’s all about what students take away from it, analyzing the decisions they make. King wants the community to know that this is a great way for students to learn the right way before they even get to the bedside. With low-, mid-, and high-fidelity simulators, students learn the basics to the complex, all preparing them for the workforce.
For more information on the University of St. Francis - Crown Point, visit their website here.