Nursing Simulation Laboratories

NSU’s High-tech Nursing Simulation Laboratories

Robotic Patients Allow Nursing Students to Practice Their Skills

By Ken Ma
Photo Caption: Kaylie Empfield, foreground, and Betsey Cedilo

High-tech is en vogue for nursing students at NSU’s College of Nursing. The college’s highly competitive nursing programs utilize sophisticated patient simulators in classroom laboratories that are equipped with hospital beds, nurses’ stations, and supply rooms. The latest technology gives the more than 1,000 students pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing degrees at NSU the most effective hands-on training they can receive before treating patients in a stressful hospital environment.

The robotic patients are being used in simulation laboratories at NSU’s main campus in Davie and at the student educational centers in Miami and Fort Myers. More than a dozen practice patients are equipped with computer software that enables them to emulate various medical conditions and physical ailments.

“This new lab provides students with the knowledge, skill, and training required to enter, or continue growing, in the nursing practice,” said Diane Y. John, Ph.D., M.S.N., ARNP, program director for the nursing program at the main campus. 

This innovated approach to hands-on learning allows nursing students to practice their skills on robotic patients who simulate people suffering from heart problems, pneumonia, and other conditions. They also have the opportunity to deliver a baby with a birthing mother simulator.
“Simulated experiences provide an opportunity for our students to gain a wealth of knowledge,” John said. “We want them to be well prepared to manage the demands of caring for patients with complex and chronic needs in any health care environment.”

At the main campus, the simulation laboratory is a replica of a real hospital floor complete with 22 beds, a nurse station, medical equipment, and technology. There is a 100-seat classroom, supply room, linen room, student lounge, and faculty offices. The new nursing laboratory was built to accommodate the program’s astronomical growth. NSU’s three nursing programs’ examination rate is at 96 percent, as compared to the state of Florida examination rate at 90 percent.

“With the phenomenal growth of the nursing program, it was obvious that more space was needed,” John said. “The old lab, with six beds for students to practice, no longer met the needs of the nursing program.” The Campus in Miami’s Kendall area houses four high-tech robotic simulators placed in 16 hospital beds, including a baby and birthing mother. In two 60-seat classrooms, students can watch in real time other students and faculty members performing nursing procedures during simulated experiences.

“The facility is designed to help our students hit the ground running when they become professional nurses,” said Sally Weiss, Ed.D., R.N., CNE, ANEF, program director and professor of the Miami Campus nursing program. “There is little room for mistakes in this profession.”

Additionally, 40 full scholarships for nursing are available annually from Baptist Health South Florida. As part of their scholarship, these nursing students are required to work for three years with Baptist Health after they graduate.

The new nursing simulation laboratory also is used by Baptist Health South Florida as a training facility for its nurse residency program and nurses who work in critical care areas.

“By sharing our resources, NSU is helping to educate Baptist Health nurses, which impacts the community,” Weiss said.

The Fort Myers Campus features 13 beds with five patient simulators, including two adults, a child, a baby, and a birthing mother.

The nursing program was pioneered by Diane K. Whitehead, R.N., M.S.N., Ed.D., associate dean and chair of the nursing department, and other professional associates.  These new laboratories fulfill her vision for the program.