ASU leads way with simulation training for nursing students

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

A combination of simulation, more space, and student actors is pushing Arizona State University to the top when it comes to nursing schools.

A recent 45,000-square-foot expansion at the Arizona State University's College of Nursing and Health Innovation is providing a mecca of simulation for nursing students.

The greater space doubles what the school had before -- making it more efficient and you won't believe just how realistic.

"Because we are able to use the lab the way we are, it makes us better nurses, I believe," said ASU College of Nursing student Heidi Helton.

Helton is one of ASU's nursing students putting the new lab to the test this year. It just opened in January and with it, a new curriculum including simulation training. For each simulated patient, there is a real life person behind a microphone in another room.

[RELATED: Valley hospital, ASU battle AZ nursing shortage with programs]

"Each of our patients has a back story. They have a name, a family, a back story that leads those students through their critical thinking and taking care of an actual patient," said Margaret Calacci, Director of Simulation and Learning Resources.

There are six new patients in all. The six new patients each have their own patient room, medication station, control room where a facilitator speaks for the patient and a debriefing room where students can watch video of how they performed.

"So they can practice their performance on basic skills like starting an IV or even doing a bed bath or even taking a blood pressure or pulse," said Calacci.

The simulated patients provide a safe space for nursing students to learn and they'll be working with live people too.

The college has just started a connection with the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts so student actors will now be coming in as their internship to do that.

In the lab, nursing students may have up to four patients at a time and must delegate a task to a nurse assistant. And much like real life, the scenarios are different every day.

While many colleges have simulation labs, few are as advanced as ASU's. It's necessary, as access to in-hospital opportunities is decreasing for students.

These labs help even the playing field.

"We are almost out of our space again. So we look to expand," Calacci said. The new curriculum is now 50 percent simulation at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation--giving nursing students a real look at life after graduation.

"We are going to be a lot better prepared for the nursing world," Helton said.

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