In order to prepare nursing students for the clinical setting, the Scott and White College of Nursing has implemented three unique components that make up the Clinical Simulation Learning Center. These components include a skills laboratory, a standard clinic, and a simulation hospital. Each component is crucial in helping students to gaining experience and confidence in their skillset in order to grow into a successful professional nurse.
The first component is the skills laboratory, which contains mannequins for students to learn, practice and perfect their clinical skills with. These labs are open for students throughout the week, with nursing faculty present to assist with teaching and evaluating students’ technique in clinical skills.
“The skills lab is a relaxed setting in which students can really just become better in preforming all sorts of nursing skills,” junior nursing student Clarissa Canchola said. “As student nurses, we are often evaluated in our skillset, which can be very stressful. So it is very helpful to have an easy-going place for us to just practice and ask questions.”
The second component is the patient clinic, which emulates a doctor’s office. The purpose for this clinic is for students to be evaluated in a more formal way, with faculty and other students who act as patients. The student nurse is then able to perform a wide variety of skills, including basic skills such as vital signs and a full health assessment, along with medication administration.
“The environment of the practicums that take places in the clinic area make it seem like we are actually working as nurses in a health care setting,” sophomore nursing student Bennett Cardoso said. “We have to verbalize everything to our instructors, which will help us when we are at the hospital to explain the procedures step by step to our patients to help them feel more comfortable. Knowing these practicums are an essential part of our grade, we have to practice and make it perfect. This will help us in the future to use our assessment skills in real life. Practice definitely makes perfect.”
Finally, the third component, which is the most advanced and realistic educational tool, is the simulation hospital. Each semester, students in each level of the nursing program have the opportunity to apply their skills to a life-like situation. These simulations each have a different concept that they cover and the nursing students work together in groups to provide care to mannequin patients. However, these mannequins are unique in that they can be controlled by the nursing faculty to do different things. The students must figure out how to deal with a wide array of situations, which helps them to gain critical thinking skills
“The purpose of the nursing simulations is to put the student nurse in a life-like situation in order to facilitate his or her ability to effectively handle care of patient,” junior nursing student Nicole Ikefuna said. “Each simulation gives the student nurse a safe environment to learn and make mistakes, which decreases the likelihood of making mistakes in a real clinical setting.”
The simulation hospital, combined with weekly clinical (where students are able to observe and assist a registered nurse) in the real hospital setting, has been very successful in helping students transform from novice students into real professional nurses.
“I believe that simulation has allowed me to improve my critical thinking skills,” Ikefuna said. “It gives me an opportunity to focus on using my textbook knowledge and translate it to a real life situation. It also gives me a sense of peace, by showing me that the knowledge to provide quality care is within me. I just need to apply it. Simulations, although stressful, give me a guide to follow in the clinical setting and is a learning experience I treasure.”