Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Interdisciplinary Simulation Lab Puts Gannon on the Map

Submitted by: Dr. Kathleen T. Patterson,
Assistant Professor and Director, Villa Maria School of Nursing


There are exciting things happening in the small western corner of Pennsylvania. The Morosky Academic Center at Gannon University in Erie was the newest building that opened during the 2008-09 academic year. It is home to the College of Health Professions and Sciences and includes the Villa Maria School of Nursing—the oldest BSN nursing program in Western Pennsylvania. It also houses the Schools of Physician Assistant, Respiratory Care, Sport and Exercise Science, Radiologic Sciences, Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy. Each specialty area is equipped with its own classroom space, faculty offices and laboratories.

The shining gem in the new building is the state-of-the-art Patient Simulation Center, which is as impressive as it is technologically complete. It includes an eight-bed mock hospital unit with eight moderate-level simulation “manikins” and two IV simulation computer programs. These “patients” are all “fluid friendly” and can be programmed to have changes in breathing patterns and blood pressure readings.

In a separate ICU area, there are two high-fidelity adult simulation manikins that can be programmed for more critical changes related to trauma or intensive care anomalies. These manikins simulate breathing and can be programmed to talk and have severe metabolic imbalances. There is also an infant simulator that can be programmed much like the ICU patients. In addition, a separate room is available for a birthing manikin and an ICU neonatal area. All of the simulation areas are equipped with cameras to videotape scenarios that are conducted by students. In addition, there are two debriefing rooms in the sim lab and a technologically advanced classroom space that seats 50 students.

The intent of this center is to have interdisciplinary simulation and management by several professions, mirroring the “real life” expectations in the hospital. “This space and equipment allows our students to feel more confident in the hospitals caring for their patients. Here at Gannon, we encourage the spirit of collegiality and inclusiveness and want the health professions to interact together towards the goal of holistic patient care,” noted Dr. Carolynn Masters, Dean of the College of Health Professions and Sciences. One parent commented at orientation, “We have looked at several schools in Pennsylvania and this is by far the most impressive center we have seen.”

The Villa Maria School of Nursing has a 4-year BSN program, an RN to BSN and an RN to MSN option, School Nurse Certification, and Master’s programs in Family Nurse Practitioner, Medical-Surgical Nursing, Nursing Administration and Nurse Anesthesia. The School has been honored by the State Board of Nursing for its impressive NCLEX first-time pass rate of between 95 and 100% over the past five years. Course work reflects the goal of preparing a nurse who is well-rounded; a nurse with an understanding of the physical, emotional and spiritual self of patients and families. In addition, liberal arts coursework supports Gannon’s local and global mission of service learning. Visit www.gannon.edu/nursing for more information.

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