Nursing Learning Center brings learning to life


Video courtesy of BYU Nursing

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Students in the third semester of BYU’s nursing program participate in a simulation lab with an adult hi-fidelity manikin. (Jeff Peery)

The new Nursing Learning Center, located in the Spencer W. Kimball Tower, is equipped with high-fidelity mannequins and additional lab space to provide more hands-on learning experience for nursing students.

The mannequins can have heart attacks, experience hemorrhaging during labor and simulate gastrointestinal bleeding, which students said has brought a realistic element into the lab.

Senior nursing major and research assistant Alexis Valle has had experience with both the old lab and the new lab, which opened Fall 2014.

“(The old center) didn’t feel real; this new one is so real,” she said. “Everything we have done here simulates a real hospital.”

As a teaching assistant, Valle has been able to see a different side of the simulator lab by acting as the voice of the patient, which she says has allowed her to see her patients in a different light. She said it makes her think about what the patient is going through and allows her to apply the knowledge she has gained over the past three years of her studies.

“As I am the patient’s voice I get to get angry if the nurses do stupid stuff; I get to be concerned; I get to have questions and be worried that I might die,” Valle said. “It has helped me to address my patient as a person and to really care about them versus their diagnosis.”

Nursing major Elizabeth Kerr said the new center helps her apply the knowledge she is gaining while being less dependent on her professor.

Kerr said the simulation is realistic. “It is you in there. You are doing your thing, and you are working with a mannequin; and you don’t look over at your professor, because they are in a different room.”

Cameras allow professors and classmates to observe from another room. After the students have completed their simulations they can watch the recording and see the things they did well and where they need to improve.

“We encourage big mistakes there because that is one less mistake they will make on a real patient,” Valle said.

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Nursing students Lindee Rock, Kristina Hollister and Torrie Robinson practice nursing skills on a child manikin. (Jeff Peery)

The mannequins may not be real people, but Kerr said that after a while working with the mannequins she starts to treat them as if they are real patients.

“You explain the procedure to the mannequin as if they are a real person, and I love that so much,” Kerr said.

With six new simulator rooms, extra computer space and additional procedure rooms, the Nursing Learning Center has a greater capacity to hold more students. Students would come into the old center at 8 a.m. for their didactic and then would have lab until 9 p.m. Assistant Coordinator Deborah Wing thinks the new center results in more effective learning.

“With the additional space we have been able to change when those labs are held; students are able to come during the day, when they are more fresh, and they are not here for long hours like they were before.”

Wing quoted the film “Field Of Dreams” when talking about the impact the new center has had on the nursing program.

“If you build it, they will come,” Wing said. “And that is exactly what has happened.”

As Wing and her colleagues thought about how to build the new center they thought about how to maximize the space and allow for future growth.

“Our new facility is a work of love. We had a lot of people that really listened to what we wanted. We worked really hard to flex our space and make it usable space. We now have a greater capacity to teach and to teach within context.”

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