Simulation at the College of Nursing
On a Tuesday morning in late February, students in lab coats file into the College’s four simulation classrooms and form rings around four lifelike pediatric mannikins, or human patient simulators. Each group participates in a high-fidelity simulation—one with maximum realism—that includes equipment and personnel typically found in the hospital setting. Members of each student group assume the roles of professional nursing staff and are overseen by College of Nursing faculty who facilitate and then evaluate the simulation activity by engaging students in debriefing, a process involving all student learners that allows students to identify gaps in knowledge, ask questions, and comment on the experience. All undergraduate and an increasing number of graduate nursing courses at the College include simulation activities which mimic clinical experiences that nursing students can expect to encounter as future professional nurses. Simulation provides a safe, supportive environment which allows students to gain valuable practice opportunities and hands-on experience without compromising patient safety. Through simulation experiences, nursing students engage in clinical decision-making, communication with patients and clinical personnel, and conceptual learning which aligns with course content. In addition to state-of-the-art computerized manikins, the College’s simulation program also includes task trainers, allowing students to focus on practicing one particular skill, as well as student actors from the Kent State University School of Theater and Dance (referred to as standardized patients) who impersonate patients in real-life scenarios such as manic episodes or loss of a loved one at the end of life.
Integral to the success of simulation at the College of Nursing is a dedicated team of professionals who each bring a unique perspective and particular expertise. Jennifer Shanholtzer, MSN, RN, CHSE, and Ph.D. candidate in the College of Nursing, serves as Lecturer and Simulation Lab Coordinator for the College. She recently became a Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE) by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, and her background includes 14 years as a registered nurse in high-risk obstetrical nursing. Jennifer has made a concerted effort to expand the range of simulation activities offered to nursing students, including the integration of theater department student actors as standardized patients. Jeremy Jarzembak, MA, BSN, BS, RN, and doctoral student in Health Informatics, serves as Senior Lecturer and Simulation Lab Coordinator for the College and has expertise as an educator in the use of simulation and intensive care nursing. In addition to teaching critical care nursing and nursing informatics, he co-coordinates the nursing simulation laboratory for which he develops, designs, and programs nursing simulation activities for both the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. The simulation team also includes Onur Topuzlu, Simulation and Desktop Support Analyst for the College and Ph.D. candidate in Instructional Technology in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services. Onur has expertise in the fields of computer systems and networks, online distance instruction, and human patient simulators and has held positions in information technology, educational technology, and international education. Under the direction of the team, simulation activities at the College have greatly expanded and evolved, doubling the amount of simulation space and equipment over the past eight years. In addition to incorporating multiple simulations into every nursing course with a clinical component, the team has developed a broader range of simulation scenarios, created an electronic medication scanning system, and worked with the local county emergency response team to develop disaster simulations held several times each semester at various campus locations.
To stay current with educational trends and emerging technologies in simulation, team members are actively involved with research and ongoing participation in the simulation community. In January, the team traveled to San Diego to attend the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH), an annual conference focused on healthcare simulation learning, research, and scholarship. As the team reported during their recent presentation for the College’s Brown Bag Engagement Series, many new products increasing the realism and potential learning opportunities for simulation are on the horizon, including virtual reality (total immersion), augmented reality (virtual elements projected on the physical world, such as projection of a wound on a manikin arm), and mixed reality, a mix of virtual and real worlds. Recently, the team was asked to participate on a federal proposal initiated by the Kent State University Computer Science Department to the National Science Foundation program, Cyberlearning for Work at the Human-Technology Frontier which would focus on advanced simulation models for improved IV insertion by nursing students. Both individually and collectively, team members have presented and published research pertaining to simulation, including presenting on the topic of theater students in simulation and co-authoring two grant proposals for improvements to the College’s simulation lab. Jennifer and Jeremy have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Jeremy has also published in Nursing Education Perspective on assessment of simulation on decision-making and presented nationally on the topic of designing simulation as an educational modality, and Onur has been published in the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education conference proceedings. Future research by the team includes the pursuit of funding opportunities to enlarge the simulation space to better replicate a hospital environment, increase the level of realism, and further expand the capabilities of the College’s successful simulation program.