State-of-the-Art Nursing Simulation Laboratory Opens

August 14, 2013

(from left) Student Mariel Palumbi goes to work on a high fidelity simulator as students Chelsea Alex, Dianna Quirk, Kirti Patel, Gwen Oliphant, Saber Alaoui, nurse educator Deborah Caniano, RN, MSN, CEN, and Stephen Fox observe.

(from left) Student Mariel Palumbi goes to work on a high fidelity simulator as students Chelsea Alex, Dianna Quirk, Kirti Patel, Gwen Oliphant, Saber Alaoui, nurse educator Deborah Caniano, RN, MSN, CEN, and Stephen Fox observe.

“I can’t breathe! Everything hurts! Somebody help me!”

The nurse hears screams for help and darts into the room to find a patient half out of bed and having difficulty breathing. She attempts to position the patient back onto the bed and begins to check vital statistics.

“Ouch! That hurts,” the patient responds.

This type of scenario plays out daily in hospitals throughout the country. Thanks to the support of the Thomas Edison State College Foundation, it also takes place in the new Nursing Simulation Laboratory at Thomas Edison State College as part of the course work for Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students. Only the patients in the lab are high-fidelity simulators and the caregivers are students in the College’s Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN Program.

“It’s as close to real life as you can possibly get,” said accelerated BSN student Mariel Palumbi, of Blackwood, N.J. “It makes you think on your feet and teaches skills that we can apply in our clinical experiences.”

Students and staff met with supporters of the new simulation lab on Aug. 8, during an open house reception at the Kuser Mansion Carriage House on West State Street, where the lab is located.  The event was covered by the Times of Trenton and Action News on 6ABC.

The state-of-the-art simulators, which cost around $139,000 each, can be programmed to simulate virtually any healthcare emergency or condition.

“Nursing students cannot experience all there is to experience in a hospital when they go through their clinical experiences,” said Dr. Phyllis Marshall, dean of the W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing. “The new simulation lab gives our students the opportunity to learn how to handle a variety of situations in a safe environment and develop critical thinking and decision skills required in our profession. We are grateful to all of the businesses, organizations and individuals whose generous donations made our new lab a reality.”

Simulation sessions are scripted and the simulators are programmed to exhibit specific symptoms and to respond to the actions of the students. This includes bodily functions, speaking and having any reaction a nurse can expect when treating a live patient.

Students will be experiencing a wide variety of scenarios in the simulation lab, including cardiac disease and cardiac arrest, diabetes, acute respiratory issues and patients that exhibit co-morbid conditions.

“When a code takes place during a clinical experience involving a live patient, students are typically moved to the side and observe,” said Dr. Christine Rosner, associate dean of the W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing. “But in the simulation lab, students are the practitioners who can save the life.”

Student Kate Lawrence, of Jackson, N.J., said the simulation sessions help tie together everything she is learning in the program.

“It’s nice to see all the dots connect what we learn in the clinical experiences,” said Lawrence. “In the simulation lab, we get to deal with situations that are more extreme than we would see in our clinical experience, where the patients are mostly stable.”

Every simulation session is videotaped so students and nurse educators can review student actions and continually improve student performance.

“Working with the simulators is very interesting,” said student Kirti Patel, of Franklin Park, N.J. “It helps us understand the symptoms we need to look for when get on the patient floor.”

Patel said she selected Thomas Edison State College over other programs in New Jersey because the College offered a one-year BSN program and accepted all of her credits.

“I liked that it was a one-year program and it was helpful that I did not have re-take any of the general education courses again,” she said.

The 635 square-foot lab includes a technical room where the simulators are controlled that features a one-way glass window so nurse educators can watch students during simulation sessions.

The simulation sessions take place in a patient care area that resembles an emergency room with three beds and three simulators. On the second floor of the building, there is a classroom and a conference room where students review simulation sessions with nurse educators.

The Thomas Edison State College Foundation played a key role supporting the simulation laboratory by raising more than $270,000 to help purchase the simulators.

“We are honored to support the development this cutting edge simulation laboratory,” said Brian T. Maloney, chair of the Thomas Edison State College Foundation. “The lab adds a critical element that enriches our accelerated BSN program.”

The College’s accelerated BSN program was launched in 2011. In March 2013, the New Jersey Board of Nursing reported that the first graduates of the program achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), based on the graduates who took the exam in 2012.

The current cohort of students are the first to use the new simulation lab. Patel said she looks forward to continuing the simulation sessions as part of her course work.

“During my first session, I was the primary care nurse. It was talking to me and I was talking back to it. It had a pulse and was breathing,” she said. “If I see the symptoms that the simulator is showing, I will know what to do when I am in a hospital caring for real patients.”
Side bar:

The Thomas Edison State College Foundation played a key role supporting the simulation laboratory by raising more than $270,000 to help purchase the simulators.

Supporters include:

• Bristol-Myers Squibb
• Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
• The Roma Bank Community Foundation
• The James Kerney Foundation
• The Karma Foundation
• New Jersey Manufacturer’s Insurance Company
• The Gary and Diane Heavin Community Fund
• Novartis Pharmaceuticals
• The Fred C. Rummel Foundation
• PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
• The Provident Bank Foundation
• Numerous individual gifts