By Maureen ‘Shawn’ Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief
Florida International University (FIU) is only a short drive from downtown Miami. Since I was going to be in town for two conferences (see my previous post on the CNL conference), I thought I would schedule a visit with Divina Grossman, an AJN editorial board member who is the vice president for engagement at FIU (that is, she’s responsible for developing and expanding community partnerships). Unfortunately, Dr. Grossman, formerly the dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CNHS), was out of town, but I accepted an invitation to visit the school and meet with the interim dean and faculty members.
So I met with interim dean and professor Sherry Pontius; clinical assistant professor and director of the MSN graduate program, Lucie Dlugasch; and Anahid Kulwicki, associate dean for research and director of the PhD program, all of whom were very generous with their time. I have to admit I wasn’t aware of all that the CNHS has to offer. The CNHS includes all nursing programs (undergraduate, RN-to-BSN; master’s programs, including an RN/MSN program for foreign-educated physicians; several NP and post-master’s programs; nurse anesthesia; and doctoral programs), as well as occupational and physical therapy, athletic training, and speech pathology. And it offers these programs in a brand new building with a state-of-the-art simulation center that would put some real hospital units to shame.
As a former ED and critical care nurse, I’ve always been drawn to technology, but the simulation center was amazing. It included almost a dozen beds with high-tech simulation mannekins (no “Mrs Chase” here!), including a young child and a birthing mom and her newborn; neonatal and newborn isolettes and warming beds with “patients”; four ORs with video support for reviewing performance tapes; and a central nursing station equipped with computers. I would love to have worked in a place as well-equipped. (NYC hospitals weren’t known for high tech, at least when I worked in one—high tech for us was a Bird respirator and one IV pump. We used 250 cc saline bottles—that’s right, glass bottles—to anchor Blakemore tubes. But as my kids say, “Get over it—it’s not the ‘70s anymore.”)
Dr. Pontius explained that FIU will be participating in research around student learning with simulation, and I imagine that the results (whether positive or negative about the effectiveness of simulation) will have a big impact on how future nurses learn. Most schools and many hospitals now use simulation routinely as part of basic skills teaching (see this AJN article, ”I Simulate, Therefore I am Nursed,” which is about one instructor’s experience with simulation).
I have to think that, given the reality of the simulated patient care unit, these future nurses will be more comfortable in the high-tech hospital environment—one less hurdle to overcome as a new nurse.