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Newly renovated nursing labs at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges will help nursing students simulate real-world work without the added stress of practicing on a actual patient. 

"I think it's going to be a wonderful opportunity for them to get that patient care feel in a simulated hospital setting," Scott Community College Nursing Program Director Lori Haugen said Tuesday during an open house of the renovated labs. "It will help them build confidence as they go out into practice." 

During the simulation, instructors and other students are able to watch what happens, either on a camera or through a two-way mirror. After the simulation is completed, instructors debrief with students on what went right and what went wrong.

"It helps build that critical thinking aspect ... really dig into and talk about the whys, thinking about those whys," Dean of Health Programs Dawn Boettcher said. "When they see that in the real world, they possibly have the advantage of 'Hey, I've seen that, what was that?' It's going to sort of key those thinking processes so they'll be more efficient in that patient care." 

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Another benefit of the simulator is the possibility of providing a high-risk, low volume scenario that may be rare but can be very dangerous. Boettcher gave the example of a patient who had had a tracheostomy. Their only airway was through the neck; that could provide a number of issues. "The simulator has the ability to simulate all of that in these patients so that if they happen to go in a place where they see that, they know how to handle it." 

Among the simulators are a pregnant patient who can simulate a birth, and a pediatric patient. Actual pediatric units are also pretty rare, Boettcher said. The simulator will allow students to simulate what happens if there's a severe medical event on a young child.

Students will be able to work with the high-fidelity simulators in their first semester, Haugen said.

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