North Park University Welcomes Special Visitors to Nursing Simulation Lab Facility

Dr. Linda Duncan, right, dean of the School of Nursing, explains how students and faculty are using the Nursing Simulation Center.
Dr. Linda Duncan, right, dean of the School of Nursing, explains how students and faculty are using the Nursing Simulation Lab Facility.

Conference attendees visit high-tech teaching facility, now in its second year

CHICAGO (October 12, 2012) — North Park University's Nursing Simulation Lab Facility has added value to the University's nursing program for both students and faculty, said Dr. Linda Duncan, professor and dean of the School of Nursing. Duncan told a group of visitors attending a national conference in Chicago that overall student skill development and teamwork skills have improved in the year since the facility opened.

About a dozen visitors came to the University October 4 from the Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo in Chicago to tour the state-of-the-art simulation lab. Opened in September 2011, the lab enables students in nursing and other disciplines to practice critical skills in a simulated, safe learning environment. Simulations are recorded, and students and faculty review their work.

Faculty have used the simulation lab to teach critical thinking. It provides added opportunities to teach the importance of inter-professional discussion, conflict resolution skills, and communication in health care settings, Duncan told the visitors. Errors can occur in healthcare settings, often because of poor communication. The simulation lab has given the University's nursing education program a way to address this topic, she said.

"Student satisfaction is very high about these experiences in the simulation lab," Duncan said. "They feel it has further enabled them to go to clinical sites feeling prepared." Something new this year is that the faculty has moved simulated, patient experience into first semester courses for nursing students, she said. In addition, the faculty is integrating simulation throughout the nursing curriculum, Duncan said. For the nursing program, the lab has been "a real blessing," Duncan added.

The 3,000-square-foot North Park University Nursing Simulation Lab Facility was designed by VOA Associates, Inc., Chicago, a first for the firm. It is using knowledge gained from the project to design similar facilities in other parts of the country, said William Ketcham, principal.

"It's always surprising to people how good this facility is when they walk in it," Ketcham said.

The $2 million simulation lab includes four simulation rooms, two control rooms, and a conference room where students and faculty debrief their class experiences, using video and audio recordings. The facility is located on the north side of the Chicago campus along Foster Avenue.

In addition to visiting the simulation lab, conference attendees visited two other new Chicago health care facilities — the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and the Tower at Rush University Medical Center. The Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo drew about 2,700 registrants and more than 200 exhibitors. The conference is a forum for sharing ideas and best practices in health care delivery improvement and how physical space directly affects staff, patients and their families. Attendees are architects, engineers, facility managers, health care administrators, interior designers, and construction professionals.  

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