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College of DuPage opens hospital simulation lab for nursing program


Nursing students at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Ill,, are learning how to respond to a wide variety of patient care experiences in the college’s new hospital simulation lab, according to a news release.

The $350,000 facility, which opened for the fall semester in the Health and Science Center, consists of a nurse’s station, four hospital rooms, two viewing rooms and a debriefing room. The lab will be used by about 400 students a semester enrolled in associate degree nursing, practical nursing and certified nursing assistant programs.

“Opportunities to create situations that are high risk or occur infrequently in the clinical setting can be created in the lab,” Vickie Gukenberger, RN, PhD, associate dean of nursing and health sciences, said in the release.

“This provides all students with a similar opportunity for engagement and assessment.”

Each hospital room contains a computerized mannequin, with one room dedicated as a birthing suite.

The viewing rooms sit between two hospital rooms and have one-way glass, so lab staff and technicians can watch students respond to the simulations. Based upon the student’s intervention, the lab staff can manipulate the mannequin and provide voiceover reactions.

Simulations range from providing medication to cardiac arrest. More than 30 simulations have been created with many more to come, Gukenberger said. Instructors create and oversee the experience, including preparation for and debriefing of the simulation, which can be videotaped and reviewed. This gives students the opportunity to reflect on their performance and receive constructive feedback.

The lab also features an automated medication dispensing unit and an electronic medical record system.

“Simulation is effective in narrowing the gap between theoretical foundations and clinical practice,” Gukenberger said. “Students are less tense and more engaged in a simulation, thus preparing them to handle the rigors of clinical rotations.”

In creating the hospital simulation lab, faculty members visited other schools with similar facilities. A former nursing lab and storage room were converted into the new space. Gukenberger said she plans to add long-term care and home care labs. The end result, she said, is a collaborative experience in which students receive hands-on training in real-world situations that better prepares them for the workplace.

“There are certain high-risk but low-volume experiences at clinical sites that only a handful of students may observe, and even fewer participate in, such as a patient coding,” Gukenberger said.

“The hospital simulation lab allows all students to respond to these situations in a safe environment where we can evaluate them. As a result, the clinical agencies have confidence in our students’ abilities when they arrive at their clinical sites.”


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