Edinboro University Nursing students will soon have another tool at their disposal in their pursuit of a career in health care. The Nursing Department was recently awarded a $35,000 grant from the Phillips Charitable Trust for a state-of-the-art pediatric simulator.
The simulator allows faculty to train students in patient care skills through hands-on exercises that mimic the reality of a clinical environment. The simulator allows students to practice the procedures, critical-thinking skills and problem-solving skills necessary to excel in a clinical setting.
Edinboro Nursing professor Dr. Terri Astorino, RN, said that simulators labs have helped to create a safe working environment for students.
“Our students overall love coming to the sim lab because it is a safe environment. There is no grade attached to their performance, simply a place to come to practice, to become a better nurse,” Astorino said. “It is also a great place to expand upon their clinical reasoning skills as they are the nurse in that setting."
The simulator is the first capable of lifelike emotions through dynamic facial expressions, movement and speech. It is designed to help providers of all levels develop the specialized skills needed to effectively communicate, diagnose and treat young patients in nearly all clinical areas. This more realistic simulator helps students to immerse themselves in the experience.
Dr. Denise Ohler, Dean of the College of Science and Health Professions, expressed how important hands-on experience can be for nursing students.
“Simulation is an amazing tool for teaching students about patient care when access to real patients is limited and to augment clinical experiences,” Ohler said. “Students have opportunities to learn about more rare conditions that they might not encounter in a clinical experience, and they can also practice without the apprehension of making mistakes with serious consequences.”
The pediatric human patient simulator is an important aspect of students' education due to limited clinical opportunities in the area for students to care for young patients.
Ohler believes that technology, especially during a pandemic, has become more important than ever in education.
“Technology has been critically important during the pandemic, and our faculty and students have adapted extremely well,” Ohler said. “Our students have opportunities to use equipment and technology that many students do not engage with until graduate school, if at all, and prepares them for learning to use industry-specific technology in their careers.”
Astorino is hopeful that as technology advances, so will opportunities to better train future nurses.
“The goal is to have the technology mimic real, live patients as much as possible. As the technology improves, so does the opportunity to educate future nurses,” Astorino said. “It gives students the opportunity to care for patients with diseases and disorders of all types, some that they may not see while students. The goal is to simulate high-frequency and high-risk populations so that when the student arrives on the unit, he or she is best prepared to care for the live patient.”