Healthcare in the U.S. is becoming more complex. At the same time, there is a critical nursing shortage and nursing faculty shortage. Nursing colleges have seen an influx of students, and most are dealing with outdated equipment.
Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing is addressing the need for up-to-date equipment with the new 10,000 square-foot MCN Nursing Simulation Laboratory. Dean Janet Krejci and Diane Folken, associate director of business and finance and co-chair of the simulation lab committee, along with many others spent the past year visiting the best facilities across the country and receiving training from top clinical simulation experts to design their new state-of-the art laboratory. The facility includes assessment and skill labs, plus a virtual hospital unit with high fidelity patient simulators and the latest technology.
Krejci said the primary impetus in planning for the lab building was getting simulations as close to real-world nursing situations as possible. Mennonite students have field clinical experiences around Central Illinois, but not all students experience the same patient situations. The MCN Nursing Simulation Laboratory will address a wide variety of acute and general care nursing scenarios, with labs set up to mirror hospital nursing stations and patient rooms as well as doctor’s offices with exam rooms. There are two-way mirrors and video capture capabilities to allow for real-time feedback.
“We have a high fidelity patient simulator, which bleeds, says ‘ouch’ and mimics all sorts of patient symptoms,” Krejci said. “The simulator makes it much easier to learn to give shots or insert an IV. The more our student nurses simulate to a virtual site, the more prepared they are for their nursing careers.”
Krejci said nurses practicing a procedure on the patient are captured on video, which streams to the entire class and even to other parts of the laboratory. Depending on the procedure, many times classmates in Edwards Hall had an obstructed view, making it more difficult to observe. Folken said there is then debriefing and self-evaluation in one of the two health assessment labs, ensuring that all will be competent with the procedure as well as the “bigger picture” of total patient care.
Krejci said allowing the students to fail helps them learn. “The Mennonite College of Nursing faculty and staff are excited to bring this high-tech nursing laboratory to our nursing students. Technology in today’s hospitals, doctor’s offices, critical care facilities and long-term care facilities has outpaced many collegiate nursing programs,” she said. “After a year of intense and careful planning, we now have a world class laboratory in which to prepare our students.”
The MCN Nursing Simulation Laboratory will have a grand opening ceremony on Monday, Sept. 19, at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony, held at 304 Normal Ave., is open to the public.