Construction is underway in the Northern Maine Community College healthcare professions wing to bring as close to real world experience to students as you can in a simulation experience.

NMCC

The College is completely renovating existing lab space and updating it to represent realistic patient rooms, as found in a clinical setting. It is not just a cosmetic update, but one that represents a huge step in technology-based education.

Angela Buck, RN, MSN, FNP-C, of the Nursing and Allied Health Department, said the lab will have unfolding scenarios that start at low complexity and as the complexity increases, the ‘patient’ will then be transferred to the higher-level unit, or simulation center. The simulation center will consist of three simulation rooms, complete with interactive mannequins, and have a control room dedicated to each room. Instructors can record events that occur in each room and debrief the students after each simulation.

“Our goal has been to provide the highest-quality clinical experience for our students that is possible,” said Buck. “However due to changes in modern medicine that has led to short length of stays and high patient acuity, we sometimes face inconsistent learning experiences which has provided significant challenges in nursing education. By providing the students with high-fidelity simulation, we can replicate many patient situations and the students are able to develop and practice their nursing skills (cognitive, motor and critical thinking) in an environment that does not endanger patients.”

Buck added that NMCC is considering purchasing five hi-fidelity mannequins -- three adult, one newborn and the last pediatric to provide a wide scope of educational possibilities.

Emergency Medical Services Department Chair Andrew Gagnon is excited for the opportunities the new simulation center holds, not just for students but the community as well.

“The simulation center can also serve as a regional training center for Aroostook County, as it will offer the ability for healthcare providers of various disciplines to learn in a realistic environment and practice high-risk, low volume procedures and patient interactions with no risk for patient harm,” he said. “This center will also allow nursing, EMS, and all allied health departments to work collaboratively together in manner that is very similar to what occurs in real life.”

As for the students who will benefit from this modern technology, nursing student Nikki Bouley said it makes her envious of the people just starting the program.

“With NMCC’s investment in the simulation lab and the most modern technology, it will provide students a better understanding before going out into the clinical field,” said Bouley. “Nursing students will be able to take less time getting to know the hospital and more time getting to know and assess the patients. To be able to practice a skill and have it feel real with the safety of being in lab is a major benefit. To be able to put a Foley catheter in and get actual return of urine to know placement is accurate makes a major difference and also helps with the nerves out in the field.”

The project is funded through a variety of sources through the NMCC Foundation.

For more information on healthcare professions and educational opportunities at Northern Maine Community College, visit www.nmcc.edu.

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