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April 24, 2008

ULM Nursing School unveils new center May 1

Practice makes perfect. Nurses trained at the University of Louisiana at Monroe will study in a new, state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit where the equipment is real and the patients are not. The community is invited to visit the new Clinical Simulation Center, located on the second floor of the Nursing Building, during an Open House 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m., Thursday, May 1.

The new center is partially funded by two grants: Louisiana Board of Regents Enhancement Fund, $40,000, and the National Student Nurses Foundation, $18,000. The grants, secured by ULM nursing faculty, fund the center's authentic medical equipment and an observation area with a one-way mirror. Soon, the center will be equipped with video equipment that records students interacting with manikins. The center will also feature NOELLE, a maternal and neonatal birthing manikin, who can “deliver” a baby.

ULM's future nurses have been working with simulated patients for more than three years. The students practice trauma intervention and daily assessment on these highly-technological manikins programmed by professors to breathe and to produce heart, lung and bowel sounds. The manikins can gag, wheeze, and even talk, thanks to integrated computers, programmed by nursing professors and staff. The simulated patients can also be programmed to become critically ill and to be resuscitated.

Students understand that the simulated patients are not real, however, in the midst of a simulated trauma designed by professors, students get caught up in the moment, said Donna Glaze, Assistant Professor and Director of Nursing Technologies. She described a particular scenario that involved a "bleeding" simulated patient: "They got their gloves on and went to work. And I will never forget their faces when they saw the 'emergency.'" It was real to them—they showed nothing but compassion and concern."

It can be challenging to locate enough clinical sites for nursing training, and the new simulation center answers that need, said School of Nursing Director Florencetta Gibson, Ph.D. Students work in a fail-safe setting, gaining confidence before moving on to a clinical site.

"We program the medical scenarios to take into account race, poverty and affluence, which prepares our students to work with diverse cultures," she said. "Our video equipment in the new center will allow our faculty and our students to review the scenarios and learn from them. Simulation is changing the way we teach our students."

As the technology enhancements in ULM's nursing school continue to flourish, the academic excellence of its students continues to thrive. The Louisiana State Board of Nursing 2007 pass rate is 95.31—a rate well above the national average.

Nursing faculty envision the College of Health Sciences eventually offering a multi-disciplinary simulation, said Jan Shows, Nursing Skills Lab Coordinator. They hope that one day, students will transport simulated patients to the radiology department where they’ll utilize x-ray machines and other technology.

“This would give all of our ULM Health Science students a realistic interactive hospital experience while encouraging teamwork at the same time.”

For more information about the School of Nursing and the new simulation center, contact Gibson at

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