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Simulation lab helps students deal with multiple stresses of nursing

After battlefield medicine, the hospital room scenario at the University of Phoenix should have been a piece of cake for David Lee and Rob Morrison.

But the elderly “patient” in the high-tech Nursing Simulation Lab challenged even the experienced Army medics.

“They’re introducing stress on purpose,” said Lee, 25, a member of the Army Reserve and a former student at Kapiolani Community College.

Morrison, 37, an licensed practical nurse at Tripler Army Medical Center, has been in the Army for 18 years.

Both men, who have served overseas, including in Iraq, are among 55 LPNs seeking to become registered nurses through a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at the University of Phoenix-Hawaii. The university also has 130 students enrolled in Bachelor and Master of Science in nursing programs and health administration.

The “immersive learning” simulation lab opened in November with design features for “the next generation of nursing education.”

“As the program grows, so will our lab,” said Glenda Tali, chairwoman for nursing and health administration. The program has 32 faculty with 10 trained to teach in a simulated “real life” environment.

A national team of medical professionals at the University of Phoenix developed 27 nursing scenarios covering acute medical-surgical, obstetric, pediatric, community health, maternity and family issues. The Hawaii university staff has learned four scenarios, with nine more pending.

The Army medics were observed training in a scenario called “Mrs. Fuentes,” an elderly woman with an ulcer on her heel who becomes hypoglycemic.

The scenario stresses “critical thinking,” teaching students to assess the whole patient rather than focus only on the foot wound because a diabetic patient could go into a coma or die with unrecognized hypoglycemia.

When the patient refused to take medicine from Lee and demanded to see the doctor, Morrison stepped in to help. Kim Delmour, one of the nurses trained for simulation teaching, played the role of an on-duty nurse, and Ivy Wong, University of Phoenix-Hawaii marketing manager, played the patient’s daughter at the bedside.

“My blood sugar is low, and there’s a cat under my bed,” the patient complained. “Can’t you see it?”

LPN students must deal with the unexpected, Lee explained. “It’s more like in the field.”

Tali said the simulation program is critical in today’s health care arena because licensed public nurses are being phased out of acute care institutions and into long-term care facilities. They need to be able to do more to help patients, she said.

Students gain skills in communication, management and critical thinking, as well as clinical experience, said Pam Fuller, dean of the university’s College of Nursing.

The lab has a fully equipped, simulated hospital room with three beds, a procedure room with two patient-care mannequins wired for live and recorded video monitoring, an observation and debriefing room to play back recorded video, a traditional classroom, conference space and access to the university’s computer lab with 15 stations.

The wireless Nursing VitalSim “patient-care” mannequins can simulate pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and other functions.

The University of Phoenix-Hawaii program awarding bachelor’s degrees in nursing to LPNs is the only one in the state, with 170 degrees granted since it began in March 2002. The university also has had LPN/BSN graduates on the Big Island and Maui.

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posted in: Hawaii, news

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