JERSEY CITY, N.J. — To help students understand how mental health issues are integrated in all specialties, the faculty at Saint Peters University School of Nursing has created simulation scenarios that are incorporated throughout the curriculum.
“In one scenario, we focus on womens health and present a pregnant teenage girl who suffers [from]post-traumatic stress disorder after an assault,” said Michelle Morales, RN-BC, MSN, clinical instructor.
Because of the increasing awareness of self-neglect in the elderly population, faculty has designed another scenario that focuses on older patients and accompanying symptoms, such as depression and poor nutrition.
For disaster nursing, faculty produced scenarios that enact an anthrax exposure event and a calamitous explosion in an office setting, which is incorporated into the fourth-year community nursing course. The students are taught how to recognize those who may have been exposed to anthrax from those who were not, refer those exposed to immediate medical care, counsel appropriately, and triage patients in the manner of first responders at the disaster scene, said Margaret Macali, RN, PHCNS-BC, clinical assistant professor.
Besides the mannequins, sophomore students act as patients, and faculty recreate an emergency scene with dramatic effects, such as blackout shades, dimmed lights, an overturned conference table, moaning victims with different traumatic injuries and casualties, and debris strewn around the room, said Patricia Ahearn, RN, MSN, clinical lecturer and coordinator, simulation lab.
The sim lab is stocked with high-definition mannequins of various ages, electric beds, stretchers, exam cubicles, a med cart, a Hoyer lift, IV and kangaroo pumps, a cardiac monitor with pulse oximetry, a defibrillator, med/surg supplies, an IV supply cart and more.
“Its been a real team effort, and Dean [of nursing]Ann Tritak and Professor Michelle Beckford have given all of us the vision and the support needed to make the lab a success,” Ahearn said. “We have been fortunate to have great equipment and supplies, but more importantly, our faculty members have used a lot of creative imagination and their collective clinical expertise in building our simulation program.”
In a separate room, the lab is set up like a home, where students work with clients, assessing vital signs, prepouring medications and providing education about home safety hazards.
To better prepare BSN students for clinical practice after graduation, faculty have incorporated an electronic health record system, called SimChart, into the lab and clinical rotations. “The program gives students practical, real-world experience in electronic documentation, and in all levels of our courses, students complete case studies, which allow them to document care as they make clinical judgements from one phase to another,” said Lisa Garsman, RN, MS, FNP-BC, director, BSN program.
An addition to the clinical rotations, the lab essentials coursework offers formal instruction and hands-on experience in the sim lab on specific skills incorporated into the curriculum. Students who are unable to demonstrate competency in a particular skill are referred to the lab for remediation, and students can voluntarily practice any nursing skill with faculty support during open lab sessions.
“Because we have incorporated simulation in all of our undergraduate clinical courses, our students are performing better on classroom exams and the NCLEX-RN licensing examination,” Tritak said. “Our primary care adult nurse practitioner program also makes use of the lab for advanced health assessments, so they are prepared for the geriatric clients they will encounter in the clinical settings.”
Beckford, Ahearn, Morales and Corinne Ellis, RN, DNP, ANP, BC, assistant professor, will present the facultys work at the 12th annual International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning in June in Las Vegas.
Janice Petrella Lynch, RN, MSN, is a regional nurse executive.