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Welcome to Sim Nursing

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The University of Calgary's new Clinical Simulation Learning Centre is paving the way for better practical experience, giving nursing students an opportunity to treat patients effectively with the use of lifelike mannequins.

These mannequins, also known as patient simulators, can blink, breathe, talk and have heart sounds, pulses and body fluids in the same way as humans. Through the voice of an instructor in the control room, patient simulators can verbally respond to questions of nursing students.

"We are able to incorporate the patient's healing responses in terms of their verbal responses and their physiological responses," said Pat Ceri, a simulation instructor at the U of C. "You can look at teamwork, you can look at delegation, you can look at communication-- all of those complex skills that are so much a part of nursing."

According to Ceri, patient simulators were introduced to students early January.

The new $1.9 million centre opened on the first floor of the Professional Faculties Building on Feb. 6 and includes 32 beds in multiple rooms, three simulation suites, a homecare environment and eight patient simulators.

Each suite will include video cameras so that students can analyze the recordings and determine how to enhance their overall performance.

Students and simulation instructors can further discuss the outcomes of simulation events by going to the debriefing rooms that are across from the simulation suites. By allowing more time to reflect on the process and mistakes made, students and faculty can understand how simulation applies to future practice.

"It allows us to recreate a clinical environment whether that's in a hospital or in a person's home or in a birthing centre," said Ceri. "We've spent a lot of time thinking about how we would use this space and so we're new and kind of state of the art in terms of what people's experience has shown them, about what works in simulation and how to best create an environment."

Ceri believes the new facility will help nursing students apply practical experience to different clinical settings as well.

"This is the place where simulation is all about experiential learning," said Ceri.

Second-year nursing student Anne Knoechel said that although she has not been introduced to the CSLC yet, she has worked with patient simulators before. She said gaining hands-on experience can sometimes provide a better understanding of clinical procedures than reading textbooks

"It gives you a better idea of what to look out for and it makes you more confident when you go into clinical settings because you know exactly what you're listening for instead of guessing," she said.

Correction: In the original version of this story the centre's opening date was February 26 rather than the correct February 6. The Gauntlet apologizes for any confusion.

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