A simulation lab at IUPUC allows nursing students to receive hands-on experience in a clinical setting.

The IUPUC Simulation Center, created in 2012, gives students an opportunity to practice different skills on a mannequin, such as inserting an IV or performing CPR, said Shannon Love, center director.

Nursing students also may earn an advanced cardiovascular life support certification as part of their training in the lab, which will be helpful as they enter the workforce, she said.

“It’s a great advantage to have,” Love said.

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Different pulse rates can be programmed on a mannequin using an Apple iPad, along with lung and bowel sounds.

“Any scenario we’re presented, we can do it here,” Love said.

The lab, which is used in many classroom courses, also uses a community pool of actors as part of students’ training, allowing them to get the perspective of a real person in a hospital-like atmosphere. The actors receive scripts to follow when working with the nursing students.

“We don’t want it to be a fearful environment (for students),” Love said. “We want it to be a safe learning environment. We want them to make mistakes before they’re out in the real world.”

IUPUC’s simulation lab was also recently accredited by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, making it one of about 100 labs in the world to receive accreditation by the organization, according to Love. As part of the process, a self-study was submitted over the summer, while a team came to tour the facility in October before granting the accreditation, which is good for five years.

In addition to the accreditation, Love is one of only 1,000 certified health care simulation educators in the world.

IUPUC requires all its nursing faculty to undergo simulation immersion training during their first month of employment and has incorporated a simulation element into nearly every one of its courses.

IUPUC has also opened its simulation lab to students and health professionals across the state, including Purdue University pharmacy students, Ivy Tech nursing students and direct service providers working in long-term care facilities in the Columbus area.

Megan Bailey, a senior at IUPUC studying nursing, said the simulation lab has allowed students, including herself, to make mistakes that they can learn from and not repeat.

“It kind of helps you get comfortable in your work and your studies so you can out into reality and do those,” Bailey said. “We’ve learned a lot of communication and collaboration skills in the lab.”

The mistakes lead to constructive guidance from faculty and staff, said Bailey, who plans to graduate in May.

“Just reading about something is not conducive to learning in its entirety because a lot of people learn in different ways, so seeing the skill and reading the skill and doing the skill is much different,” she said. “We watch each other and learn from each other’s mistakes, as well as offering ways to each other to do it in a better way that’s more conducive to the patient.”

“Historically, nursing students have only practiced on real patients, and if the opportunity didn’t pop up to perform certain procedures on those patients, you didn’t get the experience at all,” said Carrie Shaver, director of the regional health care pipeline, nursing advising and simulation at IUPUC.

“A mistake in the ‘sim’ lab is an opportunity to grow, but a mistake in the real world could cost a patient their life,” she said.

Krista Berry, a sophomore, is in her first year at IUPUC studying nursing and said the simulation center has helped her know what to expect in the real world. She hopes to work in an emergency room once she graduates, she said.

Collaboration remains a key aspect of the lab that she finds helpful.

“With a mannequin and stuff, you can make mistakes without getting faulted,” she said. “I feel like just knowing the older classmates and the professors, we get all the help that we need and the sky is the limit with the opportunities you can learn here.”

Students also will use augmented-reality technology as part of their education in the near future that will allow an incision to be simulated, center officials said.

The new augmented-reality technology will include a virtual infant showing signs of opioid withdrawal with a scenario of the nursing student interacting with an actor portraying the child’s mother.

“It will take things up to the next level and simulate things we haven’t been able to simulate before,” Love said.

About IUPUC's nursing program

IUPUC’s nursing program admits about 60 students each year. The school currently offers three Indiana University School of Nursing degree tracks.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com