By Scott Harris
In nursing education, simulations are drawing ever closer to reality.
In May, officials at Long Island University Brooklyn opened a new nursing school facility that pushes the state of the simulation arts even more toward breathing life. The facility was designed to prepare students for the high-tech, high-stakes settings in which they will practice as well as directly improve health in the surrounding community.
“We have a whole suite of different rooms for specialty areas that simulate real human conditions,” said Judith Erickson, PhD, MA, BSN, the school’s dean. “When I was a nursing student, I didn’t have that, and I remember being pretty scared when I first started out.”
The new facility was financed in part by a $10 million gift from LIU alumna and philanthropist Harriet Rothkopf Heilbrunn and her husband, Robert Heilbrunn. Officials have renamed the school the Harriet Rothkopf Heilbrunn School of Nursing.
High-fidelity simulations mirror not only real patients but also real contexts, allowing learners to gain proficiency with the art of care along with the hard science of technical procedures. LIU Brooklyn’s simulation rooms are equipped with lifelike manikins, modern equipment and the ability to customize scenarios, which can include actors. Instructors evaluate students and adjust variables from a nearby control room.
“You can put a stethoscope on the manikin’s stomach and listen to bowel sounds,” Erickson said. “You can deliver what looks like a real baby. I watch them from the control room with a computerized patient, and they listen to lung sounds and talk to patients.”
For Kelley Bradshaw, a senior in the school’s accelerated nursing program, the simulator experience didn’t take long to pay dividends. Dealing effectively and compassionately with a patient’s loved ones is a skill not easily conveyed by the average textbook, but when Bradshaw faced this challenge during clinical rotations, she was ready, thanks to her patient, “Carl.”
“They simulated loved ones coming in,” Bradshaw said. “I calmly let her know what was happening with Carl, and we got her a chair. Later, something very similar happened with a real patient. I knew what to do, because I had done it before.”
The new facility also will benefit underserved local residents. Bachelor’s- and master’s-level students will staff a school clinic providing primary care to at-risk populations in downtown Brooklyn.
“We’re providing the community with high-quality, well-educated nursing professionals, but we’re also doing it in a more direct way,” Erickson said. “We are able to serve the local community.”
Scott Harris is a freelance writer.