USI simulator preps nursing students for crises

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — It had been a few days since 64-year-old Ms. Wilson received a total hip replacement, and all appeared to be going well before she experienced a few complications and became unresponsive.

Now she was lying in a hospital bed waiting for a gaggle of college students to revive her after she quit breathing.

Young and fresh-faced, one nurse’s bangs kept falling in her face, obstructing her view as she quickly performed CPR on the patient. She alternated with another nurse, pumping Ms. Wilson’s chest rhythmically.

After two rounds of the defibrillator, Ms. Wilson awoke. And that was it.

The students fell back, crowding together in the back of the room, cracking jokes to break the sense of exhilaration, which still lingered in the air.

On any given day, people passing by the clinical simulation center on the second floor of the University of Southern Indiana’s Health Professions Building could see nursing students dressed in scrubs hastily trying to revive or, perhaps, attach an IV to one of three SimMan Classic Laerdal simulators.

And it’s all a part of an operation to better prepare USI health professions students like senior Karen Hoss for the real world.

“This is so life like, it’s hard to distinguish the difference between this and when I saw a real code in the ICU,” Hoss told the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/IbuY3Q ).

The nursing student, who is a student nurse extern at St. Mary’s Hospital and Medical Center, said working in the simulation center during her college career has better prepared for her for a career as a nurse.

“I’m nervous, but excited to put all of this learning to good use,” she said.

Christine Thompson, clinical simulations coordinator at USI, said the clinical simulation center offers students experience before entering workforce.

“Classroom learning is wonderful, but in a situation where you’re going to be doing very important things with real people, it’s nice to be able to practice,” Thompson said. ” If they make a mistake here, we can reboot the computer. It’s not so easy in the hospital, and there’s a lot more paperwork. “

Each simulator has its own hospital bed, attached to heart monitors and various equipment, depending on what the simulation is that day.

“They can breathe, we can talk through them, they have bowel sounds and they have pulses,” she said. “They all have these very humanlike capabilities that allow the students to come in and practice what they’ve learned in a scenario and actually have to use their critical thinking skills.”

For instance, students recently participated in a postpartum hemorrhage simulation last week. The “mother” gave birth at home.

“When she came into the hospital, she only spoke Spanish, so (students) had to think about how they were going to take care of her, find out what she’s feeling, make sure they’re addressing all of her needs,” Thompson said. “When they noticed her vitals dropping, they called a physician and a translator.”

One of the most unusual aspects of the simulation center, Thompson said, is its realistic hospital environment that’s in place after renovations over the summer.

“So many of the students have said ‘it just feels so real here,’ and that’s what we’re going for,” Thompson said. “It’s not something you’ll find in every university. This is something that prospective students are most excited about.”

The USI physical plant gutted the existing space and transformed it into a realistic hospital environment over summer break to better suit students.

The renovations transformed the one room area into a space with several rooms with real, hospital doors and a centralized control room.

“The students are afforded more opportunities to get that confidence built before they go to the workforce,” Thompson said.

And confidence, she said, is one of the most important skills students learn in the simulation center.

“Confidence is one of the things that makes a new hire attractive, and what we build in here is confidence,” Thompson said. “These things they’re learning to do aren’t things you’re born with. These are skills you have to practice over and over again.”

The simulation center helps students with the concept of teamwork, a trait health care employers emphasize to ensure patient safety.

“A lot of hospitals will educate their staff about that, but we really want out students be one step ahead and know those teamwork skills,” Thompson said. “When they get there, they hit the ground running, and they know what they need to do.”

Ann White, the dean of USI’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, said the simulation center helps produce quality and prepared health professions graduates.

“When we talk to the people who hire our graduates, they always tell us that our graduates have a good understanding of what it’s like to be a member of the team and how to work together in the best interest of the patient,” White said.

With the simulation center producing results like it has in the past 10 years, White sees a heavier incorporation of simulation in future health professions studies.

“What we will continue to do is very strongly integrate more simulation into our inter-professional opportunities,” she said. “We’ll be use it more and more, and utilize it in different ways with different groups of people. We’re pushing the edge and asking students to do more and more.”

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the Evansville Courier & Press

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