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Inside Concordia University Ann Arbor’s nursing simulation lab

Nursing students gain experience in Concordia's sim lab in 2019.
Nursing students gain experience in Concordia's sim lab in 2019. (Concordia University Ann Arbor)

ANN ARBORConcordia University Ann Arbor has a robust simulation center. It includes five hospital rooms with control rooms, an apartment, a courtroom, and debriefing rooms.

These rooms can be moved around to provide a variety of different inpatient and outpatient settings. (Read about how the University of Michigan used our simulation center here.)

Think about it like this. Many nurses work in hospital settings, but there is also home care, pediatrics, adult medical surgical, community nursing, and OB delivery to consider. The simulation center makes it possible for nursing students to practice in these settings before going out to their clinicals.

The CUAA Simulation program provides an environment where you can apply the knowledge, skills and values learned in the classroom and skills laboratory into weekly simulated nursing practice. (You can read more about the sim lab experience here.)

What does this actually look like for a nursing student, though?

Anita Simmons, RN, MSN, is CUAA’s Director of Simulation and Inter-professional Education. Simmons responded to this through the following questions. Her responses are italicized.

How often do students interact with the sim lab?

Nursing students have sim lab in conjunction with at least 1 nursing course every semester for the entire length of the program (6 semesters). This includes simulation in courses such as mental health, community health (including a disaster sim), peds, OB, and more. Sim lab meets weekly or every other week, depending on the course.

Students gain valuable experience participating in the sim lab. (Concordia University Ann Arbor)

Students gain valuable experience participating in the sim lab.

How does the sim lab help students master skills? In other words, how much of a difference does the sim lab make for students?

Simulation helps students put together everything they are learning. They bring forth the knowledge they learn from lectures and their books, combined with the skills they have practiced in the skills lab, and then they can see how it unfolds in a real life situation.

By the time a student graduates from Concordia, they will have completed over 100 simulated experiences, thus giving them practical experience with that many different health needs patients commonly face.

Our graduates have come back to tell us that, because of simulation, they were able to competently jump in and be an effective team member in their first code. They knew how to talk to the family of a dying patient. They cared for mothers in labor in their first year as a seasoned nurse would.

What do you love about teaching future nurses through this kind of technology?

Research has shown that students learn well from active learning. Participating in simulation is definitely active learning! At first, students feel a bit self-conscious of doing sim in front of their peers or instructors.

But, it becomes more like a real-life situation as they progress and treat it just like they would as if it were a real person they were caring for. It’s a very effective and fun way to teach and learn!

For more information about Concordia University Ann Arbor, visit www.cuaa.edu.