New nursing facilities designed to give students hands-on experience
Carthage nursing majors now have a pair of facilities in which to hone their skills and prepare for their careers.
In January 2017, Carthage completed construction on the 3,000-square-foot Nursing Learning Laboratories in Lentz Hall. The space is divided into a simulation lab and a skills lab. The labs hosted their first classes in February, when Carthage’s inaugural cohort of nursing students began hands-on work.
“Simulation is the cornerstone of the field now,” said Professor Frank Hicks, director of Carthage’s nursing program. “Research has proven that simulation increases confidence, reduces anxiety, and assists in student critical thinking.”
The simulation lab features four low-fidelity mannequins and four high-fidelity mannequins. The low-fidelity mannequins help students learn basic anatomy and introductory processes such as inserting an IV or catheter.
The high-fidelity mannequins are completely computerized and are designed to be lifelike. They include an adult male, a child, an infant, and a pregnant female. They sweat, breathe, have a pulse, and their eyes dilate; the pregnant female gives birth. The mannequins are designed to give students a close approximation of dealing with a human patient without being so lifelike that students can’t build the confidence necessary for nurses to possess.
“They allow students to simulate a variety of different scenarios,” Prof. Hicks said. “They allow us to simulate things that happen every day, to the things that are awful and rare but that a student still needs to be able to calmly assess and treat, like an aortic tear after a catheterization.”
Physical treatment is only part of a nurse’s duty. Interacting with patients verbally is also a large part of a nurse’s day-to-day routine. Carthage theatre students will put their skills on display to help nursing students hone their bedside manner; the theatre students will verbally express symptoms and simulate the things that no mannequin — no matter how lifelike — can.
“A lot of people think that nursing is a natural science,” Prof. Hicks said. “It’s not. It’s a human science.”
In addition to the mannequins, the lab is outfitted with a video debriefing room so students can see what they did right and where they can improve. Repeating simulations and examining the results is key in educating nurses. That repetition is part of a teaching strategy called determined practice, which is viewed as a best practice in the nursing education community.
“The student can repeat the simulation as many times as necessary to master a particular situation prior to having this type of patient in real life,” said Christine Ross, Carthage’s coordinator of learning laboratories. “Practice really does make perfect, and that preparation is key in a field where being totally prepared is vital.”
The facility replaces the old campus bookstore area on the main level of Lentz Hall (the bookstore is now located in the new Campbell Student Union). Other upgrades to the facility include a completely new HVAC system, new plumbing, and a total overhaul of video and internet wiring.
Interested in joining Carthage’s newest undergraduate program, or learning how Carthage educates nurses differently? View the program’s admission requirements or contact Ashley Hanson in the Office of Admissions.
Want to support Carthage nursing students through scholarship and other philanthropic support? Contact Bridget Haggerty in the Office of Institutional Advancement at 262-551-6572 or bhaggerty1@Carthage.edu.