A Critical Advantage for Nursing Students
Bethel College is better preparing nursing students for critical care situations by giving them hands-on experience in the new $1.15 million nursing simulation lab.
Made possible by a foundation matching grant and the generosity of Bethel friends, the new space features two critical care hospital rooms and three high-fidelity human patient simulators — an adult, a child and an Infant.
The adult and child simulators have a pulse; they can breathe, talk and present with symptoms that students can respond to in a safe, simulated atmosphere. And it’s the practical application that is really making a difference for students.
“Students have the opportunity to practice skills that they don’t often see or can’t be part of in a clinical learning situation,” says Bethel’s Dean of Nursing, Deborah Gillum, Ph.D.
One example is simulating a code blue, where a patient stops breathing.
“If nursing students see a code blue in the hospital, they are just observers, not participants. Here in our acute care hospital rooms, we can simulate a code blue and our students have a chance to physically and mentally practice what needs to be done in that situation.”
Junior Megan Weier experienced a respiratory simulation with the child patient simulator as part of a pediatric nursing course. Since respiratory distress is the most common critical situation for pediatric patients, it’s important for nurses to be able to identify the signs and act quickly to stabilize the patient.
“Talking about it [in class] and actually experiencing it [through simulation] is a whole new world,” she says.
The simulators allow students to practice high-level skills in a safe learning environment, while following protocol — like washing their hands before touching the patient simulators. Each exercise is videotaped and later viewed in a control room, so students can see what they did right – and what they need to correct for next time.
Weier says the practical application of concepts learned in class brought the patient in her respiratory simulation to life and gave her confidence as a student nurse.
“The simulators feel like real patients. They help give us an extra boost of confidence and extra practice so [when we move into clinicals] we can provide the best health care possible for our patients.”
Gillum agrees. “[Simulated practice] will make them more confident and prepared when they encounter
circumstances like this in the field.”
In addition to the critical care hospital rooms and patient simulators, the expanded facility also includes a large nursing lab/classroom — furnished with six hospital beds containing low-to-mid-fidelity mannequins for students to practice basic skills — a new entryway and reception area, and student
Weier sees Bethel’s expanded facility as a “huge privilege,” and notes that the space helps put her and other students into a professional mindset.
“It feels like I’m walking onto a floor at [a hospital],” says Weier, who is currently doing clinicals at Elkhart General. “It puts us into work mode.”
To learn more about Bethel’s nursing programs, visit BethelCollege.edu/Nursing.