Nursing department to gain two new labs

A mock intensive care unit and delivery room are coming to the nursing department.

In an attempt to provide nursing students with a more hands-on learning environment, two new specialized simulation labs are under construction in the department.

The new facilities will replace small, outdated classrooms in the department and will be modeled after hospital rooms, according to Loucine M. Huckabay, director of the School of Nursing. The rooms will feature computerized mannequins that simulate patients to recreate real-life situations.

Huckabay said talks of renovating the old classrooms into new simulation labs began five to six years ago, when the department built its first simulation labs. She said the classrooms were too small to be used efficiently.

“Those classrooms were so little, we could not use them,” Huckabay said. “Our class sizes were 60 students, and they were sitting in the aisles, so it was more conducive to make them into simulation labs.”

The nursing department currently has two simulation labs, according to Staci Freeman, the head coordinator of the simulation lab. According to Huckabay, each lab includes hospital beds, mannequins and medical equipment.

“We run various simulations using mannequins,” Freeman said. “We set up different situations for the students to come and practice on. These mannequins turn on and can breathe, hear sound, and we can run liquids through them, so it’s as if [students are] actually treating a patient.”

Huckabay said the department hopes to model one of new the simulation labs after an intensive care unit and the other lab after a delivery room.

“The two [present] simulation labs are generalized labs,” Huckabay said. “These two new simulation labs will be more specialized, with the mother and child delivery room and intensive care unit.”

The two new simulation labs, which were funded through grants, are already in construction, Huckabay said. However, the department still needs to raise money to buy computerized mannequins and hospital beds for the delivery room lab.

“Mannequins are very expensive, and we raise the money for that,” Huckabay said. “The baby and the mother computerized mannequins are about $55,000 [combined].”

Many students in the nursing department, like freshman nursing major Jackie Belasquez, said that although they know little about the details of the new simulation labs, they are excited nonetheless.

“It’s good that they’re renovating it because it gives a more accurate experience compared to the other [labs],” Belasquez said.

The projected completion date for the simulation labs is  the beginning of spring 2014, according to Huckabay.

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