Blinking eyes, controlled breathing and an artificial heartbeat are preparing nursing students for the real deal in patient care.
Renovations to the Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Innovation and Learning Laboratory at the UF College of Nursing are bringing high-end patient simulations to students and instructors, according to a UF Health press release. Goal-based learning mixed with virtual reality offers lifelike hospital situations to practice skills before moving onto real patients.
The renovations – which cost $2.9 million and ran from April 11 to Nov. 3 – officially opened to students in January after staff training and furnishing.
With seven simulation rooms and a separate control room for instructing undergraduates, students can experience private patient care or larger procedures such as childbirth. An instructor in the control room can then feed vocal directions from the mannequin into a room for care and conditions, Jane Gannon, the assistant dean of simulation-based learning at the College of Nursing, said.
Students will learn to apply personal protective equipment (PPE), check vitals, transfer patients between rooms and other basic skills. The lab also better reflects healthcare education such as teacher and student teamwork than the previous ward-style lab, Gannon said.
COVID-19 precautions are being enforced in the lab just like in regular classrooms, as all students in the simulation rooms must wear PPE and be cleared for campus, Gannon said. Only four students are allowed in each room at a time.
Students took online simulations for COVID-19 management and assessment last Spring, but Gannon said she wants to bring COVID lessons into the lab.While the lab doesn’t have ventilators yet, funds from the Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation paid the cost of ventilators, which would boost the authenticity of treating patients with similar affliction.
Robby Lyons, a 21-year-old UF nursing junior, used the learning lab the first week of the Spring semester to tend to a simulated patient with a gunshot wound.
The lab replicates the bustle of providers, patients and patients’ families all in the same room, which helps students learn how to work in the commotion of a real hospital.
“Don’t be nervous,” he said. “Do what we’ve been taught.”
Lyons said he is happy to be doing hands-on in-person instruction to prepare for clinical placement.
“It’s only been week one,” he said. “But this lab will continuously build up our confidence as future nurses.”
This article has been updated to reflect that the renovations cost $2.9 million. The Alligator initially reported otherwise.
Contact Manny Rea at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ReaManny.
Manny Rea is a journalism sophomore and the current health reporter for The Alligator. He worked as a copy editor in his freshman year before moving over to the Avenue in summer 2020. He likes to listen to dollar-bin records and read comics, and he is patiently waiting to go back to movies and concerts.