Nursing lessons come to life in immersive simulation

June 20, 2018 / by / 0 Comment

Nursing students Lizbeth Trujillo and Kenzie Bogue take part in an immersive simulation lab. Immersive simulation is a simulated client situation that provides a realistic, dynamic environment in which learners  practice skills, tasks, procedures and knowledge needed in caring for a patient.

Story by Ryan Kryska
Photos by David Kadlubowski
GCU News Bureau

Nursing students at Grand Canyon University can be assured they’ll never miss out on the action now that the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has an immersive simulation lab.

The facility, which opened in spring 2018, provides students with an environment that’s as real as it gets.

Nursing students say the immersive simulation lab allows them to practice without fear of harming a patient.

The lab features the latest technology in clinical simulation, including manikins (the medical spelling for mannequins) that have a pulse, blood pressure, a reactive chest and the ability to blink and cry. The rooms are wired for video and sound, and when a nursing student asks the manikin a question, a facilitator responds to bring the simulated patient to life.

Denise Matus, an immersive simulation facilitator, said taking the students to a hospital for observation would sometimes result in them “missing the birth by 10 minutes.” The lab, however, gives her the control to make sure everything happens on time — or doesn’t.

“It gives them real-life application,” Matus said. “Here, they are getting to take the knowledge they’ve been given to apply it.”

Heather Ziemianski, Director of Clinical Operations, said Level 1 students are using the lab and Level 2 will start in August, followed by all levels in spring 2019. Each student will complete 60 clinical hours.

The space previously was used for simulation but was not outfitted with the technology to bring scenarios to life. The facility has four hospital rooms, two debrief rooms, a nursing station, a room for at-home simulation and a control room.

Nursing student Lizbeth Trujillo (left) gets patient information from Pauline Reinsch.

The debrief rooms are outfitted with live video and audio, enabling classmates to watch each other in the field. They then meet after the simulation to communicate what went well and what could have gone better.

The control room is where the educators and administrators are able to alter simulation. It’s a surveillance set-up that monitors more than 10 video cameras and audio from every corner.

“So far, we have received positive feedback from all students that participated last semester,” Ziemianski said. “It’s really cool. We try to make it as realistic as we can. We’re trying to take off some of that shell shock.”

There’s no sugarcoating when the students are in simulation. It’s intense. It’s stressful, and the instructors don’t hold back. They want the students to acquire experience that will make them successful in the real world.

Everyone who enters the lab during simulation signs a confidentiality agreement so that the integrity of the experience can be maintained.

Nursing students examine the control room.

“It was hard,” said Lizbeth Trujillo, a junior nursing student who went through a simulation Monday. “Yeah, it kind of felt like it was real. It gives you a different perspective.”

Nyla Franklin, also a junior nursing student, said she’s been in labs and lectures, but the immersive simulation adds an edge that can’t be demonstrated in any other environment.

“When we are in lab we use each other, but these manikins are so real,” she said.

Junior nursing student Andrew Villanueva echoed his classmates, adding that the simulation makes it OK to mess up. That way nobody will be hurt, but the realism of it means no mistake is likely to be made twice.

Contact Ryan Kryska at (602) 639-8415 or [email protected].

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