Nursing students with access to a simulation center gain a sense of how real-life healthcare situations and emergencies look and feel. Students enrolled in the Elmhurst (Ill.) College Deicke Center for Nursing have the added advantage that their new simulation center equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and manikins is in a hospital.
The 4,600-square-foot simulation center on the lower level of nearby Elmhurst Memorial Hospital opened this summer. It is designed to serve students, hospital staff and, eventually, first responders from the Chicago area, and is a dramatic upgrade from the 900-square-foot room on the college campus that previously was used as the schools simulation center.
‘Real- life’ nursing
It makes me take it more seriously, senior nursing student Amanda Kuchenbecker said. I just feel like Im actually in a hospital like a real nurse taking care of a patient. Its almost like youre doing it for real life, like in the hospital because it is a hospital.
Kuchenbecker and fellow senior Sara De Paul, in addition to using the center for their classes, work at the facility. They come once every other week to help simulation center director Laury Westbury, MSN, RN, CHSE, CNOR, set up the rooms and to help the younger students practice what theyve learned.
Both students said they feel privileged to have access to such a spacious, modern facility.
Our old lab was very cramped, De Paul said. Now its actual patient rooms we have real equipment, like real oxygen equipment, real call lights. Theres just so much actual technology that represents a real hospital, which I think is amazing (to assist) the students learning to get the real feel of how a hospital setting would look like.
Westbury still marvels at how closely the center resembles the concept she had in her mind when she was asked to help design it. She especially likes the ability to be the voice of the manikins from a control room behind one-way glass in each of the rooms. Previously, in the old simulation center, she did the voice of the manikins in the same room only a few feet away from the students so the new setup adds to the realism. She said the new center allows for a lot of things to happen at one time in this space.
The idea for the simulation center was hatched a little more than a year ago when Julie Hoff, PhD, RN-C, associate professor and director of the schools nursing program, talked to Pamela Dunley, MSN, MBA, RN, Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare vice president and COO/CNO, about the need for more space and Hoff mentioned they had some unfinished space in the hospital that might be available. By July 2013, a contract had been signed, and by July 1 of this year, the facility was open.
On opening day of the center, a vehicle accident was staged on the campus, allowing students, hospital staff, the Elmhurst Fire Department and other first responders to gain experience in a mock emergency situation. Students also were allowed to ride along in ambulances, which Hoff said gave them valuable experience.
Hoff said the staged accident was a way to bring different healthcare professionals together and improve the way they interact, something she said too often is taken for granted in the real world and something the new simulation center can foster.
Thats the idea of simulation is you can bring the different disciplines to the bedside for the purpose of learning, Hoff said. In doing that, you not only will learn each others role, but you will enhance your communication, enhance your problem solving and be practicing those things that are invisible but just as essential to patient care.
Tom Clegg is a freelance writer.