As the profession of nursing has advanced, so has nursing education. Nowhere is this more evident than in the SSU-SOMC Simulation Lab, now in its fifth year of helping future health care professionals gain clinical experience.
The lab was created and is operated as a partnership between Shawnee State University and Southern Ohio Medical Center. Through the SSU Development Foundation’s “Poised for Tomorrow” fundraising campaign, Southern Ohio Medical Center donated $250,000 toward the development of the SSU-SOMC Simulation Lab in 2008.
The facility, located at SOMC’s East Campus, provides clinical instruction for nursing, as well as physical therapy, respiratory therapy, and other health science students – as well as ongoing education for health care professionals at SOMC.
“This facility allows us to create ‘real life’ clinical experiences in a controlled environment using the most advanced computer simulation software and mannequins that are so real we’ve not only named them, but given them their own personalities,” Becky Thiel, DNP, SSU Interim department chair, said. “When in the moment of taking care of them, our students forget that they aren’t real. While simulating a birth with Noelle, our obstetrics mannequin, we had one student whispering in her ear and comforting her.”
The lab includes mannequins capable of speaking and exhibiting vital signs, as programmed from a command booth. This controlled environment gives health science students the opportunity to learn – and make mistakes – in real-life situations before working with real patients.
Last semester, Shawnee State University nursing students logged nearly 70 hours of education time in the lab. With the addition of a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree program in nursing, use of the lab is expected to increase.
“The lab allows us to teach critical thinking skills by exposing our students to situations we know they will encounter in their careers,” Thiel said. “We can make the scenarios as straight-forward or as complicated as we need to, teaching students how to work as a member of an interdisciplinary team. Students from physical therapy, respiratory therapy, and nursing learn how to collaborate and communicate for the best outcome for the patient.”
Thiel explained that scenarios are filmed so they can be watched and discussed afterwards with the students to demonstrate critical decision points and how the situation was handled well – or could be handled differently.
The simulation lab is also used for American Heart Association courses such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support. These courses prepare healthcare providers for emergency care of patients.