WCSU nursing professors publish chapters in award-winning book
Educators share simulation experience in work honored by American Journal of Nursing
DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University nursing faculty members Dr. Catherine Rice, Monica Sousa and Linda Warren are among the authors who published chapters in “Simulation Scenarios for Nursing Educators: Making It Real,” recognized recently for its contributions to nursing instruction by the American Journal of Nursing (AJN).
“Simulation Scenarios,” co-edited and co-authored by Dr. Karen Daley and Dr. Suzanne Campbell, earned second place in the information technology and informatics category of the 2013 AJN Book of the Year Awards. Dr. Pamela Jeffries, associate dean for academic affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, observed in her foreword that the updated and expanded second edition of the “acclaimed book for nurse educators provides a practical, step-by-step guide to designing and developing simulation scenarios and integrating them into the nursing curriculum.”
Both chapters by WCSU faculty members offer innovative scenarios designed to be used by nursing educators in planning their own simulation-based exercises for instruction. Rice, professor of nursing, is the author of “Tune Into Simulation Through Physical Examination”; Sousa and Warren, assistant professors of nursing, are the coauthors of “Acute Management of Respiratory Distress in an Adult Patient.”
“My chapter was developed to provide educators with a thorough understanding and practical blueprints to begin the exploration of simulation scenarios in the laboratory,” Rice observed. “These templates provide educators with ‘ready to use’ scenarios that serve to support student learning.”
The chapter co-authored by Warren and Sousa draws from the extensive experience that both authors have gained as nursing professionals at Connecticut hospitals. Warren, who joined the WCSU faculty in 2009, has been a registered nurse (RN) for more than 40 years, with extensive experience in critical care as well as in cardiothoracic nursing as a certified critical care nurse (CCRN). Sousa has worked as an RN for 10 years and as a clinical nurse specialist in adult health since 2010. She joined the WCSU nursing faculty four years ago.
Warren observed that their chapter’s presentation of simulation scenarios for a case of adult respiratory distress focuses on a very common situation that most nurses will encounter in real-life practice. “Our scenario provides the medical history of the patient and takes the student through the case assessment and different strategies for treatment using various technologies and medications,” she said. “It is especially helpful in sharpening students’ assessment skills to focus on the big picture, and not just look at one element of the case in isolation.”
Sousa said the scenario also is designed to “make sure students are listening carefully to the case report and picking up on the key information that tells them why that patient is going through respiratory distress.” Rapid and accurate assessment of respiratory complaints is critical to ensuring that the patient’s condition is stabilized before vital signs begin to deteriorate, she noted.
Daley’s role as co-editor and co-author of “Simulation Scenarios” provides a further connection with WCSU’s experience in integrating simulation exercises within the nursing curriculum. Daley helped to advance simulation technology at Western as a WCSU nursing faculty member from 2001 until she left in 2011 to become dean of the College of Health Professions at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Mich. WCSU acquired its first SimMan patient simulator nearly a decade ago, and now offers three SimMan units at Midtown campus laboratories where nursing students learn through simulation exercises custom-designed by WCSU faculty.
“Simulation is one of the important ways that nurse educators can train students in a safe and controlled setting,” Sousa remarked. “Simulation helps students to think through the assessment of the case presented, and it is OK if they make a mistake. Students become less nervous and more confident so that, when they provide care at the bedside of a real patient, they will make the right decisions.”
Warren has found that simulation exercises provide a useful and necessary complement to classroom instruction as well as the hands-on experience that students receive in her Clinical Nursing Practice class during nine-hour weekly assignments in the ICU at Waterbury Hospital and the telemetry units at Danbury and Waterbury hospitals. The opportunity to work directly with nurses and patients on the floor — and in critical care, an area where WCSU offers practical experience that other Connecticut nursing programs cannot match — offers a “realistic clinical experience” covering a broad range of subjects from cardiac monitoring and respiratory issues to medications and dressing changes, she said. Simulation has an equally important role to play in gaining practical experience because it enables the instructor to replicate medical conditions that may not be present during students’ clinical assignments, she added.
“I can’t predict the patient population during clinical visits, so our students’ experiences are going to vary depending on the kind of patients they encounter,” Warren said. “With simulation, we can provide the same experience for all our students and structure a controlled scenario for care of a cardiac or pulmonary patient in a non-threatening learning environment. If they are later presented with a similar situation in real life, they can take these learned strategies to provide effective care for the patient.”
Sousa, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at WCSU, observed that the introduction of SimMan technology enables students “to feel and touch and hear” patient symptoms presented in a realistic simulation, teaching them important skills to work collaboratively as a team to determine effective measures for intervention. In the decade since the arrival of the first SimMan on campus during her senior year, she has found that today’s student applicants for admission to the nursing program have come to expect that simulation will be offered as part of their learning experience at Western.
Sousa described simulation as one aspect of a comprehensive nursing education at WCSU that draws upon the strengths of faculty members active in the nursing profession and current on the best practices in nursing care and education. “Nursing is very stressful and our program is very rigorous, so we do our best to make it possible for our students to learn and succeed,” she said.
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