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May 1, 2008

New ULM School of Nursing Clinical Simulation Center provides crucial experience to nursing students

Hands-on experience and confidence are two assets gained by ULM School of Nursing students, aided largely by the training they receive at the school’s new Clinical Simulation Center, located on the second floor of the Nursing Building. The School of Nursing welcomed the community to its new, state-of-the-art center Thursday, May 1 in the Nursing Building at 10 a.m.

ULM's future nurses have been working with simulated patients for more than three years, allowing them to 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. The simulated patients can also be programmed to become critically ill and to be resuscitated, or be set up to “die” if observing instructors notice a student missing a critical step while training.

Nursing students value such a practical approach, according to second level student Stephanie Jordan of Collingston. “You receive real, hands-on experience, as everything works like it would with a real human patient. We learn a lot better doing things this way than by only attending lectures or reading textbooks. We also experience the range of emotions present in emergency situations.”

Second level nursing student Emily Church of Monroe agreed. “It’s so different than when you’re sitting in the classroom. You remember these situations – you get just as anxious as you would with a real patient. This is very effective training, and we are glad that this opportunity is here.”

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 Dr. Florencetta Gibson. Students work in a fail-safe setting, gaining confidence before moving on to a clinical site. “Our goal is excellence. This allows us to prepare and educate a stronger graduate who will continue to provide quality care in our community.”

College of Health Sciences Dean Denny Ryman praised the talented and hardworking School of Nursing faculty and staff. “Everything the students learn here is going to benefit patients in the future.”

According to School of Nursing assistant professor Rayne Lowder, various medical scenarios are programmed into the simulated patients, giving more experience and insight. “It’s not just about bedside nursing. They role-play the part of supervisors, learning the best way to communicate with family members. All of this allows them to retain knowledge and concepts of patient care as they go out in the workforce.”

Russell Smith, executive territory manager for Laerdal Medical Corporation, emphasized that improved patient outcomes result from experience with simulated scenarios. “The patients are truly the ones who benefit when experienced students enter into the medical field.”

The Clinical Simulation 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, video equipment in the new center will allow faculty and students to review the scenarios and learn from them. The center will also feature NOELLE, a maternal and neonatal birthing manikin, who can “deliver” a baby.

The new center illustrates the “limitless creativity of ULM’s faculty and staff,” said President James Cofer. “We often talk about providing our students with unique opportunities outside of the classroom, and this new state-of-the-art center center accomplishes that.”

As the technology enhancements in the ULM School of Nursing 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, hoping that one day, students will transport simulated patients to the radiology department where they’ll utilize x-ray machines and other technology.

For more information about the School of Nursing and the new simulation center, contact Gibson at (318) 342-1644 or

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