Brenau University recently completed construction of a state-of-the-art nursing simulation laboratory on its campus in Norcross, Georgia. Program officials say the lab will offer future nurses the best possible preparation before they enter the field.
The simulation lab will be utilized primarily by students in Brenau’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, a 16-month, full-time degree program offered on the North Atlanta campus in Norcross that teaches clinical knowledge and hands-on patient care skills necessary to start a career in nursing. The lab includes five patient rooms all mocked up to look exactly like hospital rooms, according to ABSN program coordinator Laura Hart.
“They all have working lights, air, suction, oxygen — everything that would be in a real hospital room,” Hart said. “We have real hospital beds, real hospital equipment, vital sign monitors for our high-fidelity simulators, and each room has a dual-camera AV system that allows us to watch and record our students in their simulations and play them back during debrief.”
The lab has a medication dispensing system similar to those nurses use in hospitals to pull medication for patients, as well as real code carts with defibrillators. Each room has a large screen television for the debriefing, Hart said, and one difference from a genuine hospital environment.
“Every room has its own observation room with a one-way glass so that we can see what’s going on in there, but the students can’t see us watching them,” she said. “From those rooms, we can also control the simulators — what they say, what they do, their vital signs. We can make them bleed, have seizures, whatever we want them to do.”
The program will have five total high-fidelity human simulators: two adults, one pediatric, one newborn and one birthing simulator. Hart said these high-tech pieces of equipment can do everything from talk, bleed, cry, blink and, yes, give birth. The infant simulator can even turn blue. The lab also has a number of mid-fidelity simulators if the instructors want to create a scenario that involves multiple adult patients.
Construction of the lab, which was funded by a $1 million investment in the program by Synergis Education and an $125,000 investment in the construction of the lab by Optima Properties, was started in August 2018 and completed this spring. The completion was marked by a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 21. Initially, the lab will be used by the undergraduate ABSN students, but Hart said they are planning opportunities for graduate nursing students in Norcross to utilize the space as well.
“We’re having discussions with the Nurse Practitioner program about doing some interdisciplinary scenarios,” she said. “We could have a student who comes across a patient that needs something that requires them to call the nurse practitioner. Our nurse practitioner students could then come in and do simulations at their level.”
Hart said there is a higher risk of mistakes in nurses who begin a nursing career in a hospital without having experienced patient care before. Simulation, she said, “really improves learning if we can bring them into the simulation area and put them in the situations they will see in the hospital.”
She said it also provides greater opportunity to see emergencies that students may not see in a residency at a hospital, but they will eventually see out in the field.
“In the simulation if they make mistakes, it’s OK,” she added. “They learn from that. They can kill the patient and we can hit rewind and do it over again until they get it right.”