by Linda Friedel | Reprinted courtesy of KC Nursing News
Seniors at Research College of Nursing are anxious to test their knowledge in a new learning lab this spring.
“I’m very excited,” said Michael Richards, senior in the nursing program. “I think the sim lab is going to be a great learning experience.”
Richards and his classmates will be the first cohort to practice in the stateof- the art simulation lab in the newly built Seelos Center on Research’s campus. The simulation lab opens to students for the first time this week. Students already have practiced their skills on manikins in the program’s Learning Resource Center but will be able to put their communication and teamwork skills to the test in the simulation lab. Small groups of three to five students will interact in scenarios with computerized patients at the bedside who can blink and have seizures and heart sounds.
“It will give all the students a great real-time reaction,” Richards said. “It will be much more real, I think.”
Tobey Stosberg, assistant professor and director of the Seelos Center and director of the Learning Resource Center at Research College of Nursing, had a primary role in designing the simulation lab. She helped to transform the lower level of the college’s main building into a space that includes a simulation lab, classroom/ meeting space and lounge area for the students. Stosberg said she was excited to work in the capacity as the first director of the new facility. She had formerly promoted the idea of a simulation lab and considers the new facility a dream come true, she said.
“I was in the planning from the beginning,” Stosberg said. “I was the person that had the most knowledge of simulation.”
The center was made possible by a $1.5 million gift from an anonymous donor, Stosberg said. The gift established the Seelos Center in honor of the donor family’s patron saint, The Blessed St. Francis X. Seelos, C.Ss.R, who was a Redemptorist priest. The Seelos Center measures 6,907 square feet and serves as multifunctional space in the lower level of the main building. The facility includes classroom and meeting space, simulation labs and lounge areas. The cheerfully painted lounge area allows students to gather for relaxation or study groups and meetings, Stosberg said. It includes a kitchen and lockers for students to store their belongings while engaging in simulations. The donor felt strongly about creating a space for students to unwind, she said.
“He wanted a space for students to come be relaxed,” she said “It was very important to him. He was very student focused. He is an advocate for nurses.”
Stosberg said she spent months researching Kansas City area simulation labs before the design was set into place. She met with area nursing schools and hospitals to look at their labs in addition to attending a national simulation conference. Stosberg said she was diligent in asking nursing school faculty what they would do differently if they had a chance. As she brainstormed, she learned from their experience, she said. Storage and work space was a big issue with many of the centers, she said. Stosberg listened. In addition to designing the necessary exam rooms, debriefing rooms and patient rooms, she made sure to think efficiently. Instead of dedicated control rooms, Stosberg designed open spaces behind one-way mirrors with desks and computers. The space doubles as a large work space, she said. She saved space from several control rooms and used it to create a storage room large enough for hospital supplies, medical equipment, costumes, props and manikins. It is one gigantic room, she said. Stosberg said designing the space alongside the architects was simultaneously exciting and a tall order.
“It was fun. It was a large task. It was a big responsibility,” Stosberg said.
Stosberg wanted to create an atmosphere of learning in the simulation lab, she said. Throughout the facility, she mounted images of a text she adapted from her own simulation training. The framed text is stamped in large font – “The Basic Assumption: We believe that everyone participating in activities at The Seelos Center is intelligent, capable, cares about doing their best, and wants to improve.”
Stosberg does not expect her students to handle their scenarios with perfection, she said. The Basic Assumption encourages students to do their best, she said. Stosberg’s focus is on collaboration and communication, she said.
“This is a learning experience,” Stosberg said. “We’ll learn from it. That makes a leader. A leader is someone who is going to recognize, evaluate and self-reflect.”
The simulation lab is a safe place to make mistakes, said Kim Patterson, a senior.
“It can be discussed,” Patterson said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for us as seniors as well as the rest of the students.”
Theresa Kiblinger, a senior, said just having a chance to pick up the phone to practice giving reports is huge for her. It is a common fear, Stosberg said. She remembers being nervous to dial the phone, she said. Students and graduate nurses are afraid of making a mistake giving reports to physicians pharmacists or other allied health care professionals, she said.
“That’s one of the things I’m terrified about doing,” Kiblinger said. “I think it will be the perfect bridge from being in the classroom to the hospital.”
The students say the simulation lab promotes leadership they do not get in their clinical experiences in hospital settings with real staff members. They interact with working professionals who are making decisions, they said. In a simulation lab, students will problem- solve in sometimes rapid-fire scenarios where they hunker down as a team and call out to one another.
“Having that practice here will definitely be beneficial,” Kiblinger said.
The students have not reported to their first simulation lab and Stosberg is already looking ahead. She says she likes to think outside the box and sees endless ways to challenge students beyond the traditional simulation lab uses. Since the school of nursing partners with Rockhurst University, she already has left a message with the physical therapy department to collaborate on interprofessional scenarios. Research studies and health care in general are focused on interprofessional team work, Stosberg said. She plans to implement that strategy from the get-go into the simulation setting.
“The opportunities are limitless,” Stosberg said. “I have so many visions. I want them all done now.”
Then, there is the theater department to call for actors to portray patients in the lab and a grant she already has written, she said. Her head is bursting with future possibilities, she said. Stosberg will hire an assistant for the simulation lab to start this fall. Eventually affiliate hospitals, family physicians and residency programs will use the simulation lab for practice in addition to the nursing students, she said.
“I’m just excited for the students to begin using the simulation center,” Stosberg said. “It’s going to be a huge draw. I hope students come out of this taking something they gained from simulation or to be a little more at ease with the different situations that nurses encounter.”
Photo by Linda Friedel/Nursing News Photo