Penn Nursing students spend many hours in the classroom, but their curriculum also provides hands-on instruction, through simulation education.
The Simulation Center on the first floor of the Claire Fagin Hall is undergoing an expansion project to create enhanced simulation space. The new 7,500 square foot facility will be nearly twice the size of its former one.
The Center allows students to learn to effectively communicate with patients and to apply critical thinking skills they learned in class in choosing a course of treatment for their patients.
Construction for the Simulation Center began just after commencement in May.
“What our students tell us in our evaluations is that they prefer the live actors versus the mannequin. So, we’ve tried to design our class simulations more on reality because, when they see a person, it feels more real to them,” says Angela Iorianni-Cimbak, director of the Nursing Simulation Center.
In the state-of-the art facility, life-size mannequins are programmed to simulate symptoms found in patients. Students can diagnose and treat conditions such as an allergic reaction or a heart attack. If the mannequin doesn’t receive the proper treatment, its condition could “worsen.”
The Center also offers trained actors who play the role of patients to help students learn communication skills. Students can interview and interact with the actors, known as standardized patients, and learn how to handle a wide variety of situations.
“The simulation center is a safe place to talk about what happened,” Iorianni-Cimbak says. “How do you think the scenario went? What would you do differently? What are the things you’re proud of? What would you change the next time you have a patient like this? What lessons have you learned? What would you communicate with other people? “
The Simulation Center renovations, made possible mainly through a $4.35 million grant from the Helene Fuld Health Trust, are scheduled to be completed in time for the fall semester.