State-of-the-Art Nusing Simulation Lab Provides Real World Experience

Nursing Simulation LabSacred Heart’s expanded, state-of-the-art nursing simulation lab will help ensure that new graduates have the extensive first-hand experience to quickly, safely and effectively respond to patients in hospitals or other healthcare settings.

Construction began this summer on an additional, three-bed lab that will  house the most advanced computerized training system available. Once complete, Sacred Heart’s Department of Nursing clinical simulation lab will consist of three nursing laboratories with 16 beds and six ambulatory care exam tables.

Thanks to a $75,000 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority, the new laboratory will be equipped with a high-tech SimMan 3G patient simulation system that includes a sophisticated, wireless manikin that instructors can program to exhibit specific behaviors and symptoms, as well as control how it responds to physical care and medications. Equipped with both a computer-based remote and voice control, the system is so advanced that it can control the manikin to realistically:

• Display specific eye or pupil responses
• Experience a spike or drop in blood pressure or pulse
• Suffer seizures and convulsions
• Physically react to the type, amount and administration of more than 100 drugs
• Bleed
• Experience a heart attack or other cardiac symptoms
• Speak to caregivers
• And more

Studies prove that when used in conjunction with classroom instruction and clinical experiences, simulation labs help produce safer, more efficient and more confident nurses.

“An increase in nursing students and decrease in community-based clinical training opportunities caused by staff shortages and patient confidentiality concerns make Sacred Heart’s simulation labs invaluable,” said Dr. Anne Barker, chair of the Nursing Department. “The best way to learn is from your mistakes. Simulations allow students to make mistakes without putting anyone in danger. And because they take place under faculty supervision, students receive feedback immediately, so they can learn from the experience.”

Newer students will use the manikin to practice basic skills like administering medications, treating wounds and monitoring blood pressure, breathing and other vital signs. More advanced students will use it to practice more advanced skills, such as responding to signs of a sudden stroke, internal bleeding or other emergencies.

In addition, the SimMan 3G high fidelity simulation system allows nursing students to experience caring for patients with multiple issues, giving them the opportunity to become skilled at establishing priorities, safely apply the concepts they’ve learned in the classroom and practice using therapeutic communication skills.

Simulation training is proven to enhance nursing students’ confidence—essential in a field like nursing, where split-second decision-making is required, Barker noted.

“Sacred Heart is always looking at its curriculum and facilities and asking ‘How can I improve? How can I make this great aspect of our program even better?’ This advanced patient simulator has really done that for nursing,” Barker said. “It takes our department to the next level, providing students with the kind of real-life practice and execution of clinical reasoning skills that they need to best react to patients out in the field.”