Apr 15, 2015

Nursing students get a practice run in a simulation day

A career in nursing can be loud, fast-paced and down right chaotic.
To learn how to better handle the evolving field, some of the nursing students at Central Lakes College’s Brainerd campus ran through the LPN and RN Simulation Day. It’s an event held each semester that brings in actors (students or community members) to play the parts of patients, while faculty members evaluate how each nurse-in-training does with each “patient.”
A classroom on the second floor of CLC is set up like a real hospital wing, with five beds, a nurse station and medical supplies.
At last week’s event, there were five patients, each with a different story, and each with a unique challenge for nursing students to take care of.
Meet the patients:
* One person with congestive heart failure and trouble breathing.
* One person with alcohol withdrawal and pancreatitis.
* A 4-year-old child with a ruptured appendix that was taken out.
* A 17-year-old single mom, who just gave birth and is having troubles with breastfeeding.
* One person with a kidney infection, nausea and pain management issues.

Fifteen groups of CLC nursing students ran through the hour-long process. It stars in the “report room,” where the students play out the typical start to a hospital shift: Handing out work tasks and talking about patients and priorities. Next, they dove into the 20-minute simulation. The students visited with each “patient” and addressed each need and challenges, as they arose.
Afterward, the students debriefed with a faculty member in another room.
CLC nursing instructor Darci Goeden said each patient situation in the simulation is very common in a real hospital. A lot of the challenges can be applied to other situations, too, she said.
The simulation day started several years ago with a joint grant between CLC, St. Cloud University and St. Cloud Technical and Community College.
School leaders had three main focus goals in mind: Scope of practice, teamwork/collaboration and culture.
Before the simulation, there were gaps between understanding what RNs did versus LPNs, Goeden said.
“And we were missing that time where students could actually get out and experience (a work setting) before getting out into the workforce,” she said.
The simulation is typically for the folks in the program who will soon be graduating.
Even though simulation day is challenging, student Roxanne Jelinski of Little Falls wishes it would happen more often since it’s “such a good learning experience.”
“It gives me confidence,” she said. “I still struggle with being confident.”
Jelinski was taking care of the patient experiencing alcohol withdrawal during the simulation event. Even though he was agitated, Jelinski said her experience with real alcohol withdrawal patients helped. She works at a St. Cloud hospital.
A new experience was taking care of the little girl at the simulation day. Jelinski doesn’t typically get assigned to pediatric patients at the St. Cloud hospital.
Still, Jelinski said she eased the tension in the simulated situation by answering the mom’s questions and interacting with the little girl, letting her use a toy stethoscope to listen to Jelinski’s heart.
Jelinski is in the PN program, but was just accepted into the RN program at CLC. She’ll start that in the fall.
The simulation day offers “very realistic situations,” Jelinski said.
“It’s valuable. It puts what we’re learning to real life situations,” she said.
Student Kelly Lindgren of Sauk Rapids, who is the ADN program, acted as the charge nurse, or leader of the unit, during her team’s simulation.
It went smooth, she said, even though it can be a little challenging.
“It is always better to practice and make mistakes then to harm a patient because of the unknown. As awkward as it is acting for many of us, it is essential and will be a part of your role as a nurse as long as you practice,” she said.
The simulation opened Lindgren’s eyes to how stressful and busy an actual day on the job can be. 
“Situations can change dramatically with patients and nurses of all types need to be prepared to handle rough situations,” she said. “This doesn't mean that we have to have all the right information but we need to be prepared to react in a manner that reflects positive and safe patient care.”
Her advice to future students: Be calm. It’s all about learning, after all. It’s OK to make mistakes here and be challenged.
“This is the place to practice and feel safe as a student,” she said.
Goeden said with the simulation, students learn to work together, to prioritize what has to be done first and they don’t have to feel embarrassed if they make a mistake.
“You learn from it, so the next time they are in that situation, they know how to react,” she said.
“It’s important that by the actual time they go to work as an RN and LPN, they know what it’s like in the real world work place,” she said.