Simulation labs are an important component to becoming a nurse and now virtual reality is becoming an important part of simulation programs.
At the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing, simulation provides students a safe environment where they can gain confidence and proficiency in their clinical judgment and nursing skills.
Growing from approximately 2,500 square feet to over 5,000 square feet, the school expanded its skills labs and is designing several high-fidelity sim spaces, such as a birthing suite, an operating room and a home health setting.
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Dr. Kelly Rossler is co-leading the next generation of simulation research, virtual reality.
Dr. Rossler recently completed testing the effectiveness of a low-cost virtual reality system that allows nurses to realistically work with patients and equipment in a virtual environment.
Currently, she is conducting a study to compare simulation teaching modalities to transition newly licensed nurses into practice.
"We are hoping to find and as we are seeing as we look at new nurses, is they are able to communicate as team members, they have confidence in a clinical setting to be a member of that new team that they've entered into," said Dr. Rossler.
The benefit of simulation labs is that instructors can replicate any health event and all students can have the same experiences.
This is especially important for helping students train in high-risk, low frequency events, like a febrile seizure in a child.
"We bring them to the simulation lab and presto chango! They experience a child with a febrile seizure and we can do it over and over again," said Jeanne Carey, with LHSON Sim Center.
The simulation lab may play a critical role with clinical site shortages plaguing nursing schools.
A study done by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing found simulation experiences can be effectively substituted for up to 50 percent of traditional clinical experiences.
"It's really nice to have the simulation center to practice because I may not get that exposure when I graduate as a new nurse," said nursing student Haleigh Tompkins.