Research shows that simulated learning experiences, which have been integrated into nursing curricula over the past 20 years, improve patient outcomes. Chamberlain College of Nursing developed its innovative SIMCARE CENTER™ at each of its campuses so students can hone their nursing skills in a safe, simulated clinical learning environment.
For example, what if nursing students could participate in simulated births before delivering their first baby? Patient simulators react much like an actual patient would – they have vital signs, voice discomfort and can blink, sweat and bleed. Students are challenged to react in real time to healthcare situational scenarios, including childbirth, seizures and cardiac arrest.
From privacy curtain areas to scrub sinks to hospital beds, SIMCARE CENTER facilities replicate hospital and clinical settings. The nursing skills labs feature high-tech training equipment – including patient monitoring equipment, a birthing simulator and physical assessment exam tables. As part of our commitment to academic excellence, the SIMCARE CENTER is also supported by a resource center that helps with the development of complex skills like medication calculation.
“Working with students means you have to be prepared for anything, which I love,” says Tracy Heberlig, MSN, RN, SIMCARE CENTER Manager at Chamberlain College of Nursing’s Charlotte campus. “In the SIMCARE CENTER, our students have a safe place to learn. We know they’re going to make mistakes, but we want to help them learn from those mistakes. We call that ‘falling forward’.”
In one new SIMCARE CENTER scenario, Heberlig and Chamberlain faculty enhance students’ pathophysiology course experience, where they learn about diseases of the body in the simulation lab. Staff use the SIMCARE equipment to simulate abnormal heart or lung sounds, so students can assess and respond in real time and more easily retain the information.
“Making learning active helps students not just memorize but understand their clinical education,” says Heberlig. “This is one of the things I love about what we can do in the SIMCARE CENTER lab.”
Breakdowns in communication in the healthcare setting can adversely impact patient outcomes, so Heberlig and her team emphasize the importance of communicating in the SIMCARE CENTER in addition to learning nursing skills. The lab’s collaborative environment helps students communicate with faculty, their fellow students and the patient in both clinical and simulation lab experiences.
Through interactive debriefing sessions, the SIMCARE CENTER faculty help students evaluate their experiences. In these sessions, they discuss what worked and what didn’t and address students’ feelings in the process, which encourages improvement of skills and breeds confidence.
“We want our students to reflect positively on their SIMCARE experiences and become extraordinary nurses,” she says. “By teaching future nurses how to collaborate as a team to provide safe and complete person-centered care, we are transforming healthcare in our own communities and beyond.”
By Molly Mattison
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