Hands-On Learning: The Importance of Nursing Simulation Labs

Practice Like a Professional

If you are looking to put your non-nursing bachelor’s degree to work as a nurse, a great choice for you is an online-based accelerated nursing program, like Marquette University’s Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. While accelerated programs like Marquette’s accredited, nonprofit university involve online coursework, it’s important that students gain valuable hands-on experience before caring for patients in a real-world healthcare setting.

Thanks to Marquette’s comprehensive learning model, Direct Entry MSN students have the opportunity to receive hands-on practice in a safe learning environment through onsite labs, which come in two parts: nursing skills lab and nursing simulation lab.

Connecting online coursework and clinical rotations, both labs work together to teach students how to safely put nursing theory concepts they’ve already learned into experiential practice. Containing the same tools and equipment you would find in a hospital setting, labs give students the chance to overcome any fears or insecurities while running through a variety of patient care scenarios, roleplaying with classmates, and working with high fidelity manikins in a consequence free environment.

“Labs are where students can excel and refine their skills,” says Brenda Kutzke, Director of Nursing Academics for Marquette University’s Direct Entry MSN Program in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

Part 1: Nursing Skills Labs

As you walk into the skills lab, you can expect to see an assortment of complex nursing equipment, such as IV pumps, medication carts, enteral feeding pumps, stretchers, and more. The equipment and supplies may seem overwhelming at first, but as you advance through the program, you will begin to know them like the back of your hand. Skills lab can be viewed as an open discussion – as you identify each piece of equipment, your instructor will explain when, where, and how to use it effectively.

Part 2: Nursing Simulation Labs

Simulation lab is the closest you will get to working on real patients. This is where you can put the equipment you’ve learned in skills lab into practice, using a simple task trainer, a high fidelity medical manikin, or a classmate (depending on the severity of the activity). Tasks may include administering injections, checking vital signs, monitoring blood pressure, and more.

It’s our goal to make you feel like you are in a real-life situation, but without the fear of hurting someone. This means, you will have the opportunity to make mistakes, learn from them, and try again, under the guidance of trusted instructors. So, don’t be shy – it’s crucial that you ask detailed questions along the way to enhance your overall learning experience. Once you become competent in performing these skills, your instructors will then take notes from the observation room, and monitor how you handle a specific patient care scenario on your own.

nursing simulation labPatient Care Scenarios

“The diverse simulated experiences that our students complete can range anywhere from infants to older adults to dealing with families in more complex situations,” says Brenda. “These scenarios help prepare students for the real world.”

Early on in the program, you may be given a scenario that focuses on the basics of nursing practice. This will require you to know the ins and outs of patient safety, physical assessment, and how to best communicate with your patient. Taking what you’ve learned in online coursework and skills lab, your instructors will test you on how to adequately assess a patient, or high-fidelity manikin. As you complete the simulation, your instructors will evaluate you to ensure you are executing basic skills, such as:

  • Washing your hands
  • Introducing yourself to the patient and/or family member in the room
  • Identifying the patient
  • Explaining your purpose

Practicing these scenarios will help you develop, refine, and apply nursing theory into a realistic clinical situation. It will also show you the importance of team-based, interdisciplinary care.

Role Playing

Effective communication plays a vital role throughout a patient’s whole healthcare experience, and a vast piece of the responsibility falls on registered nurses. Knowing this, it’s crucial that you are communicating with members of your cohort during simulation lab. This will train you to have the confidence to collaborate with hospital staff, fellow nurses, and doctors during your in-hospital clinical rotations.

Clinical staff and faculty will have you participate in simulations with other students in your cohort, where each of you will be playing a specific role. “On any given day, students can play the role of the primary nurse, secondary nurse, family members, or instructors – it just depends,” says Brenda. “Some role playing scenarios can be done individually or in groups, given the circumstances.”

For example, if you’re playing the role of a patient, you may be given challenging questions to ask your classmate, the primary nurse, such as “what will my future look like as a diabetic?” or “how can I continue to treat my symptoms once I am discharged?” It is up to the primary nurse to answer the questions correctly, in a timely manner.

The Marquette difference when it comes to hands-on experience.

The in-depth and diverse experience students receive in simulation lab wouldn’t be possible without the state-of-the-art equipment they have to practice on. Under the mentorship of trusted faculty, you and members of your cohort will have the chance to practice on cutting edge, 3G patient simulators, SimMan 3G and SimJunior.

Hi-Tech Medical Manikins

According to Laerdal, SimMan 3G can be described as, an emergency patient simulator that can help improve critical time management, decision making, communication and handovers between departments. It can demonstrate neurological and physiological symptoms and is capable of the following training scenarios:

  • Automatic Drug Recognition
  • Light Sensitive Pupils
  • Bodily Fluid Excretion

simulation manikinSimJunior is a life-like, full-body simulator for pediatric emergencies. It mirrors a six-year-old boy, simulating an array of situations from a healthy talking child to a non-responsive critical patient showing little to no vital signs. SimJunior allows students to hone in on a variety of pediatric skills and gain exposure to serious pediatric problems.

The time that you have to practice on these hi-fidelity manikins is extremely helpful. It teaches you how to react to intense situations that may happen on the fly, care for adults and children of all ages, and communicate effectively with a real-life patient.

Put Your Passion for Nursing into Action

As you can see, nursing skills and simulation labs play an important role in your nursing education. They not only enable you to develop a thought process for thinking critically by putting the nursing theory concepts you’ve already learned into practice, but they provide you with the confidence needed to walk into clinical rotations with your head held high.

The time to put your passion for nursing into action is now. Contact an admissions adviser to learn more about our Direct Entry MSN program and how our nursing simulation labs can play a key role in your clinical skills advancement and future in healthcare.

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