A new day dawns for nursing students perfecting their skills at Bloomfield (N.J.) College with the opening of the Nursing Learning Resource Center.
Students are in awe, and it sparks their interest in learning, said Neddie Serra, RN, EdD, chairwoman of the Frances M. McLaughlin Division of Nursing at Bloomfield. This looks more real to them than the older lab.
The former lab opened in College Hall when the schools nursing program began during the 1960s. Until Jan. 15, when the new center opened, students learned on seven crank beds, with no vacuum suction or oxygen, and they pretended what the hospital environment would be like, said Massiel Avendano, a senior nursing student at Bloomfield.
It allows you to learn things because you have the space, said Avendano, who serves as a peer mentor to less experienced students. There is adequate space to actually practice IVs and injectables. It helps with learning.
Kimberly Luna, a sophomore nursing student, described the space as amazing and three times as large as the old lab, giving students more places to practice skills on each other.
I enjoy the new lab because the atmosphere is more welcoming and easier to work in, Luna said. The new room has windows and natural light coming in. Serra described the old lab as antiquated, yet everyone managed to teach and learn in that environment.
Developing a new center
The administration received a Predominantly Black Institutions grant from the U.S. Department of Education to gut four former classrooms and renovate the space into the new center. It makes our nursing program as competitive as the schools around us, said Lorraine Flood, RN, MSN, director of the Nursing Learning Resource Center. We are able to accommodate more students.
Sophomore students attend labs before going into the clinical setting. Upperclassmen work in the lab concurrently with practicums. Avendano said seniors often go the lab to study as a group. Students can practice on a new simulator and low-fidelity manikins.
It will help students to think on their feet in a safe environment, Serra said. If they make a mistake, it will help them learn.
About Bloomfields program
Bloomfield began a nursing program in 1968, led by Frances M. McLaughlin, a graduate of the Presbyterian School of Nursing in Newark. McLaughlin, along with other faculty, had petitioned United Hospitals to close the diploma program. She also worked hard to convince the president of Bloomfield, a liberal arts school, to create a division of nursing.
She saw the vision for baccalaureate education, Serra said.
McLaughlin taught at the school and continues to visit. She has seen photos of the new lab and has a visit planned.
About 120 students attend Bloomfields nursing programs. The school offers a generic BSN and an accelerated RN-to-BSN program. Last year, 34 generic students and eight RN-to-BSN students graduated. The school has grown, with the average size of the graduating class a decade ago ranging from eight to 15. Serra attributes that to a growing need for nurses and to nursing being a career that pays a good wage.
A lot of people are choosing nursing as a career because its an industry thats not shrinking but growing, Serra said. There is always a need for nurses, and that will exist in the future.
Debra Anscombe Wood, RN, is a freelance writer.