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Nursing simulation lab coming to UNG's Gainesville Campus

Virtual Hospital in Gainesville
Nursing student Collin Murphy practices starting an IV on a mannequin in UNG's Dahlonega Campus Simulation Lab. A similar lab is coming to UNG's Gainesville Campus.

A lab that features cutting-edge technology to help students in nursing and other health professions practice their skills is set to be completed in December on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Gainesville Campus, one month before the campus welcomes its inaugural nursing cohort.

UNG's four-year nursing program is expanding to the university's Gainesville Campus to address a critical need for healthcare workers in the region. The first cohort will begin in spring 2016, and applications already have exceeded the number of slots available.

"This facility will allow our first nursing cohort on the Gainesville Campus to hit the ground running with top-notch technology to help them learn and practice their skills," said Dr. Dean Teresa Conner-Kerr, dean of UNG's College of Health Sciences & Professions.

According to Dr. Kim Hudson-Gallogly, head of UNG's Department of Nursing, the simulation lab will employ technology-enabled active learning (TEAL) — a teaching methodology that merges lectures, simulations, case studies and problem-based learning activities to create a rich, collaborative learning experience.

"Students bring a wealth of experiential learning to the classroom, and with the use of TEAL, the student and the teacher stimulate decision-making and problem-solving through their own individual perspectives augmented by evidence-based data," Gallogly said.

The lab is in the first phase of construction, which is creating an office area. Construction on the lab and classroom are to follow soon; the lab is projected to contain nearly 2,000 square feet, with the classroom to have more than 1,600 square feet.

This space also will be used for clinical trials in a new partnership between UNG's College of Health Sciences & Professions and the North Georgia Heart Foundation (NGHF). Gallogly said the partnership will be beneficial to both sides while collaborating to combat heart disease.

"Both parties have a shared mission to invest in our communities' health through research and education," Gallogly said. "UNG student health professionals will engage in educating the community while working side by side with research nurses who are conducting clinical trials and research to end cardiovascular disease in our region."

According to Katie Parrish, director of simulation for the College of Health Sciences & Professions, the new space will contain:

  • High-fidelity mannequins that can simulate a wide variety of medical issues
  • Space for standardized patients (people playing the role of a patient)
  • Task trainers, which are used to teach specific skills and body systems
  • Four acute care patient rooms, including a medical-surgical room, pediatric room, intensive care unit room, and a labor and delivery suite
  • An outpatient clinic room
  • An apartment with a living space, kitchen, and bathroom that will be used for mobility training, safety assessments and more for students in UNG's nursing and physical therapy programs

No health services will be provided through the lab, as it is strictly for simulation and training purposes only.

"Each room will be equipped with hospital grade equipment, furniture and supplies to enhance the realism of each scenario," Simmons said. "We hope to incorporate Interprofessional Education into each simulation, which is important in understanding others' roles in patient care as well as developing effective communication skills within healthcare teams."

The lab will contain a nurses' station with computers to simulate electronic health records, a medication preparation area, and multiple storage areas for supplies and equipment. Video recording equipment will provide live viewing in a classroom for faculty and student observers as well as for use in debriefing.

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