Lourdes nursing students experience real life situations thanks to simulation

–by Sylvania AdVantage Staff
Publication Date: 11.01.16

Lourdes Nursing Lab Instructor Sarah Thomas , right, plays the role of the ‘interfering girl friend’ during a clinical simulation while nursing students  Corinna Anderson ,  Taylor Walterreit  and  Kaitlin Kurz  handle a ’patient crisis’ situation.
Lourdes Nursing Lab Instructor Sarah Thomas , right, plays the role of the ‘interfering girl friend’ during a clinical simulation while nursing students Corinna Anderson , Taylor Walterreit and Kaitlin Kurz handle a ’patient crisis’ situation.

Lourdes nursing students experience real life situations using human patient simulation, better known as high-fidelity mannequins, with virtual and computer- based simulations, to teach psychomotor skills, or role play.

“Because of our well-equipped lab, students are prepared for what could happen during real life experiences,” noted Director of the Nursing Skills Learning Lab Melissa Pietrzak, an alumni of Lourdes University School of Nursing. “Our simulations provide a rich learning opportunity for students to integrate what they learn in theory while making real-time clinical decisions just as they would in the hospital setting.”

“Thanks to the forward thinking of the administration and the generosity of our many supporters, we have been able to add sophisticated, computerized mannequins that can be programmed to make heart and lung sounds and even simulate giving birth,” Pietrzak added.

The human life simulators are incorporated into the lab curriculum, where advanced nursing students spend from three to six hours per week. The focus is on evidence-based practices and fundamentals for those students beginning their clinical experience. The second phase includes pharmacology, assessment and mental health, which could include the utilization of the low-fidelity mannequins, or those without any interactive features. According to Pietrzak, those mannequins are helpful for students in administering medications and giving injections, among other procedures.

Simulation has provided a diverse perspective for all of the nursing students that range from first semester students through fourth semester. The interactive mannequins that are provided for each simulation are seen as key in achieving safe, quality, patient-centered care. The learning lab classes provided at Lourdes University give the students the opportunity to deal with complex problems and critical events in a non-threatening environment.

“Our goal is to prepare our students to build their critical thinking knowledge that will demonstrate sound, safe, clinical decisions,” Pietrzak said.

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, simulation is an educational process that imitates the working environment and requires the learner to demonstrate procedural techniques, decision-making and critical thinking. Studies show that students involved in active learning obtained through stimulation retain knowledge longer, report more self-confidence and express a higher level of satisfaction with the learning experience.

“In addition to our human life simulators, our nursing lab teaching assistants role play and. many times, students will volunteer to play the roles as well. Our simulations are structured around what the students are learning from their theory classes to support all components of learning styles,” she explained.

“For example, the fourth semester advanced students participate in a simulation that includes a high-fidelity mannequin set up to play a ‘man’ named Steve Austin, who is experiencing a heart condition and was rushed to the hospital. His ‘girlfriend,’ regularly played by staff member Sarah Thomas, interferes with the nursing students dealing with the heart crisis. Those students learn to assess their ‘patient’s’ condition, determine procedures in response to his clinical manifestations, also known as his signs and symptoms, and focus on patient care, while the ‘girl friend’ attempts to distract them. Eventually the goal is to administer actions to save ‘Steve’s’ life, all of which is videotaped,” she said.

Following the simulation experience, students and instructors take time to debrief. This includes reviewing the recorded simulation so the students and instructor can evaluate their performance, which enhances the entire experience, according to Pietrzak. “The advantages to simulation allow the learner to experience a crisis situation before it occurs in the clinical setting,” she said.

Lourdes nursing students Kaitlin Kurz and Taylor Walterreit continue to treat their ‘patient,’ Steve, while dealing with his ‘girlfriend,’ played by instructor Sarah Thomas, during a clinical experience in the Lourdes Nursing Lab.
Lourdes nursing students Kaitlin Kurz and Taylor Walterreit continue to treat their ‘patient,’ Steve, while dealing with his ‘girlfriend,’ played by instructor Sarah Thomas, during a clinical experience in the Lourdes Nursing Lab.