Ask any Arkansas Tech University nursing student, and they will likely tell you that hands-on experience is a vital aspect of preparing for a career in nursing.
With that in mind, Arkansas Tech has upgraded its nursing lab facilities to provide additional learning opportunities for students.
Arkansas Tech recently added a simulation lab to allow nursing students to practice the skills they are learning in a controlled environment.
The simulation lab is equipped with two high-fidelity human patient simulators. The machines, part mannequin and part computer, allow students to experience a variety of nursing situations that might occur in a hospital or other care setting.
Dr. Rebecca Burris, head of the Department of Nursing, said the simulators enhance the lessons being taught in the classroom and allow students to benefit from new technology.
“Nursing is a hands-on field, and the lessons in the classroom don’t always come to life until a student sees them in a clinical setting,” said Burris. “The life-like patient simulators allow our students the opportunity to learn and practice skills in a realistic and stress-free environment.”
Students enrolled in the nursing program at Arkansas Tech begin using the lab in their first year of clinical courses.
“I believe early access to hands-on experiences will help students gain confidence and ease the transition to working with patients,” said Burris.
The simulators will also be used to ensure students are exposed to a variety of potential nursing scenarios.
“Because of the unpredictability of the hospital setting, there could be areas a student is not exposed to simply because the hospital is not performing that type of care during a student’s study,” said Burris. “The simulation lab allows our faculty to follow up and make sure each student receives exposure in all areas of the profession.”
The simulation lab is just one upgrade aimed at enhancing student learning within the Department of Nursing. Over the summer, the department also redesigned its skills labs to improve functionality for students.
“Previously, there were two small skills labs, and students and faculty were constantly having to move back and forth between the two labs,” said Burris. “We took out the wall separating the labs to create one large lab. This allows students better access to the instructor, and it’s much easier for the instructor to supervise the students. Additionally, we were able to add another nursing bed by rearranging the layout of the lab. This gives students more opportunities to practice.”
Burris said both labs allow students to maximize the practice they receive at Arkansas Tech.
“We know the more situations and practice students receive giving care, the better prepared they are when they enter the workforce,” said Burris. “Our goal is to continually find ways to enhance our program to ensure we’re providing a quality education for our students.”