Nursing Students Benefit from New Technology: Lakehead Reveals State-of-the-Art Simulation Lab

(October 5, 2009 —Thunder Bay, ON) Today, Lakehead University’s School of Nursing unveiled its new, state-of-the-art Nursing Simulation Laboratory.  Faculty and students are thrilled with the learning opportunities the Lab offers, and are eager to show it off to the community. 

In addition to monitors, hospital beds, and other items found in any standard clinical setting, two high-fidelity, interactive mannequins – which can be programmed to speak, breathe, and display a variety of physiological symptoms and responses – create an authentic learning environment in which Nursing students can build upon their techniques.  “This facility is designed to bridge theory to practice in a safe and interactive learning environment,” says Karen Poole, Director of Lakehead’s School of Nursing.  “It’s wonderful to be able to witness the effect this learning tool has on each student’s competence and confidence.” 


BScN students Carolyn Anderson and Suzanne Stewart perform a code blue scenario
Kristen Jessiman, Coordinator of the Lab, is proud to see the project come to fruition.  She was hired in April 2008 to design and develop the Lab and to facilitate use of previously purchased simulation technologies into the current BScN curriculum.  “As a learning tool, this Lab is invaluable on a number of levels.”  She explains that Nursing students – years one through four – are able to use the facility to practice techniques and protocol on the mannequins.  They can also record themselves and review the taped exercises to learn from their mistakes.  Exercises that take place in the Lab can be streamed to either of the main Nursing lecture theatres for other classes to watch and incorporate into applicable lesson plans.  Jessiman works closely with faculty, clinical instructors, students, and community partners to integrate the use of the simulation technology into learning experiences for Lakehead’s Nursing students.

Simulation – including the mannequins, task trainers, and virtual software – provides a safe learning environment in which students can develop their nursing, critical thinking, and problem solving skills through exercises which can be tailored to meet a variety of learning needs.  The combination of hands-on learning and advanced technology allows for a wide-range of simulated clinical experiences. While simulation can never replace the value of clinical practice, it certainly gives students a broad range of exposure to both common and unique nursing situations. “No matter how confident a student is about his or her nursing skills, there’s no better way to become familiar with the sort of situations we’ll be faced with in the workforce than this,” says Geoff Etcheverry, one of Lakehead’s 4th year BScN students.  “It’s a well known fact that everybody learns from their mistakes, but whether we’re inserting an IV or catheter into the mannequins, or bringing a flat-lined mannequin back to life, we don’t have to worry about the consequence to human life if we make any mistakes during the training process.  You can’t match the reassurance of knowing we can all practice and learn while everybody stays safe.”    

Development of the Lab has been a work in progress.  In 2005, the Ministry of Health contributed $850,000 for the purchase of simulation equipment for both the Lakehead University and Confederation College campuses.  Now that a space has been dedicated for the Lab, and funding has been allocated to create and maintain Jessiman’s role, the technology is being fully integrated into the curriculum.

Dr. Laurie Hayes, Lakehead’s Vice-President (Academic) and Provost, is grateful for the Ministry of Health's financial support which enabled the construction of the Simulation Lab.  “Nursing graduates continue their careers at the bedside, out in the community, in nursing education or administration, and they even have opportunity to influence health care policy, " Hayes says.  “Our previous graduates have moved to employment in many levels of health care.  Thanks to the Ministry of Health funding for this new lab, our nursing students now will be better prepared to deliver state-of-the-art, 21st century patient care."


From left to right: Suzanne Stewart, Geoff Etcheverry, Director of School of Nursing Karen Poole, Carolyn Anderson, Nursing Sim Lab Coordinator Kristen Jessiman, Vice-President (Academic) and Provost Dr. Laurie Hayes, and Dean of the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences
Dr. Lori Livingston.
School of Nursing staff members continue to utilize the School’s family of mannequins, which comprises males, females, a birthing mother, children, and babies, in the main nursing lab.  These items enhance learning while bridging nursing theory to nursing practice. 

An Open House takes place from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 6, during which time community members are welcome and encouraged to drop in, see the Lab, meet the simulated patients, and learn more about simulated technology.  If you are interested in attending or require additional information, please contact Kristen Jessiman, Nursing Sim Lab Coordinator, at 343-8079 or kdjessim@lakeheadu.ca. 

For more information on Lakehead’s new Nursing Simulation Lab, please visit http://nursing.lakeheadu.ca/simulationlab.

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Media: Dr. Hayes, Karen Poole, Kristen Jessiman, and Geoff Etcheverry are available for media interview.  For more information or to arrange interview times, please contact Communications Officer Heather Scott at 807-343-8177 or commun@lakeheadu.ca; or Director of Communications Eleanor Abaya at 807-343-8372 or eabaya@lakeheadu.ca.

About Lakehead
Lakehead is a comprehensive university with a reputation for innovative programs and cutting-edge research. With a main campus located in Thunder Bay, Ontario and a campus in Orillia, Ontario, Lakehead has over 7,900 students and 2,250 faculty and staff, and is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. In 2006, Research Infosource Inc. named Lakehead University Canada's Research University of the Year in the undergraduate category. For more information on Lakehead University, visit www.lakeheadu.ca 

Last updated October 06, 2009

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