Nursing Simulation Gets Innovative

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Light flows from an open door that is sternly propped in welcome on the second floor of the Lazzara Health Sciences Center. Every undergraduate nursing student has made the pilgrimage to and through that open door. Some have felt the intoxicating emotions that flirt with triumph after the conquering of a clinical skill in the Nursing Laboratory, popularly called the Nursing Lab or Sim Lab.

Others have tasted the coffee grind bitterness that stalks unsuccessfulness on the first attempt and the remediation of these all too vital skills.

Yet, through it all, on the typical day the critical role of the nursing lab goes unexplored and unnoticed. The walls are lined with hospital beds, medication carts and other necessities for the blossoming nurse to practice, practice and perfect the clinical skills learned in lecture. Some of the beds are occupied by mannequins that are stiff and lifeless until a fellow student or professor speaks for them or plugs them in, activating computerized voices.

“I think it helps us get prepared for the clinical setting,” said junior nursing student Lauren Rooney. “Having the mannequins with the heart and lungs sounds are really helpful for preparing for clinical where a student works for six to 12 hours in a hospital.”

The safe but occasionally stressful environment of the simulation lab is where the life of an undergraduate nurse begins.

“It [the first clinical skill evaluation] was scary,” said junior nursing student Heather Lowery. “I was afraid. Professor Shubert was actually my clinical instructor, and she had to kick me to the rim because I was so nervous.”

Unfortunately, simulation is also sometimes where the life of a nursing student ends, and they turn to other shores for a career. The hours of preparation, including motor memory and knowledge of the science base behind the skills, required of nursing students can be overwhelming and even compounded if limitations exist within the resources of the lab itself.

In light of the fact that limitations faced by clinical labs have been identified as a main reason for the inhibition of the growth of nursing programs, the Florida Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation and The Florida Center for Nursing have joined together to combat this obstacle. From this collaboration, the Florida Healthcare Simulation Alliance was thought into being.

Professor Linda Shubert, a registered nurse and the clinical lab coordinator for Jacksonville University’s School of Nursing, was nominated for the Steering Committee for this new initiative.

“We’re doing great things with simulation at Jacksonville University, and I’m excited to contribute to something that will help change the face of how simulation is done in Florida,” said Shubert in an interview with journalist Phillip J. Milano. “It’s a high honor.”

A few of the main goals of the Florida Healthcare Simulation Alliance are to serve as a resource for institutions that utilize simulation technology, to improve retention and growth of healthcare programs statewide through simulation, to help standardize simulation practices for excellence, and to improve the quality of care of the population through the use of simulation.

“It is a privilege to work for someone in such an important position,” said Patrick Regis, a junior nursing student. “She is very good at what she does, and I am sure this opportunity will help many more students than just those at JU.”

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