Illinois Wesleyan’s School of Nursing opens simulation center

By admin Dec 23, 2014

Kacie Graves


A new teaching center was added to Illinois Wesleyan University’s School of Nursing (SON) on Oct. 13, enabling students to practice their skills in both simulated hospital and home healthcare environments.

Simulation nursing education is a method used to guide students in clinical scenarios and let them experience a range of medical situations in a safe and controlled environment.

“The faculty is preparing us for important situations that we will see often in the real world,” said senior Nursing major Natalie Statham. “The new center gives us the autonomy we will experience once we graduate, but without the worry of hurting someone. It forces us to think critically about emergent situations.”

Now in the garden center of Stevenson Hall, the simulation center features two “hospital” rooms equipped with computer-run mannequins. Professional laboratory staff member Becky Altic, BSN, RN, programs the mannequins with specific medical conditions, vital signs and outcomes to mimic “patient” responses from a control room. Working behind a two-way mirror, Altic is no longer visible to the students.

“This not only increases fidelity, but also prohibits the students from anticipating any changes made in the “patients” condition,” Altic said.

In SON’s previous center on the first floor, Altic would control the mannequin in the same room as the students. “This didn’t affect the quality of students’ experiences, but the addition of the control room allows us to communicate more efficiently with the “patient” and maintain focus on the clinical scenario,” senior Nursing major Colin Barr said.

While the previous design adequately provided quality and safety training for nursing students, the new center is now consistent with best practices in simulated nursing environments.  Altic developed the basic design, but consulted with professionals experienced in wiring, construction and audio. “As our budget increased, many people contributed ideas for enhancements,” Altic said.

The new center has much more space, and the addition of a Community Health room, which mimics a small apartment and allows students to conduct home health assessments in a life-like setting. The students are expected to evaluate the patient and their environment, looking for “safety issues, proper medication storage and necessary resources,” Altic said. “The space can also convert to an agency, providing the students with a simulated agency visit,” said Altic.

The layout of the simulation center was designed with a pathway from the simulation room to the debriefing that prohibits student interaction. “The students finishing their simulations no longer walk past those who are waiting to start theirs, which prevents any transfer of information or emotion to those who have not yet participated in the simulation,” Altic said. “The simulations are now filmed, enabling the nursing staff to review the simulations with the students more efficiently,” Barr said.

Instructors are able to review key points with students to point out our strengths and weaknesses. “Although none of us students enjoy watching ourselves, it honestly creates a great tool for learning from our mistakes,” Satham said.

The state-of-the-art simulation center is not only favorable to current students, but according to SON Director Vicki Folse, it also meets the demands of increased student enrollment.  “I hope that all of the students to come really appreciate how amazing having a learning experience like this is,” Statham said.

“Every year the class sizes continue to grow, which illustrates to me that prospective students want to graduate from our program because we produce quality nurses that are prepared for that next step after graduation. The new simulation center adds to this,” added Barr.


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