Cabrini University’s new Clinical Simulation Center (CSC) provides a state-of-the-art facility and hands on learning environment for the Nursing program, guided by faculty demonstration and partnered practice. And, unlike many other Nursing programs in the area, Cabrini Nursing majors spend time in the lab during their first year.
Housed in the Antoinette Iadarola Center for Science, Education, and Technology, the CSC contains a Clinical Skills Laboratory and two High-Fidelity Simulation Suites. Each suite has a conjoining debriefing and observation room where students and faculty engage in meaningful discussion optimizing learning while in a small, personal class size. Students have the ability to use real, functional medical equipment as they care for patients in simulation scenarios.
“The Clinical Simulation Center allows students the opportunity to experience purposeful learning based in a variety of clinical settings,” Jennifer Frey, Founding Director, PhD, RN, said. “Given our health equity-focused curriculum, the CSC has the capability and flexibility to transform into different health care environments, such as clinics, home healthcare settings, community centers, and more.”
Rooted in Cabrini’s mission-based Education of the Heart, the Nursing program was developed to cultivate leaders who feel empowered to use their voices to advocate for health equity by informing and influencing education, policy, and practice in nursing and healthcare. The CSC contains a diverse set of manikins representing different genders, races, and ages, helping to immerse students in the program’s grounding in the health equity of diverse populations across different lifespans.
Alycia Anne Sabol, MSN, RN and Nursing Simulation Education and Operations Coordinator, believes that giving the students the opportunity to work in the CSC from the beginning of their time as Nursing majors sets Cabrini’s program apart from others in the area.“We want to offer hands-on experience at all levels, as much as possible, and that starts as early as freshman year,” Sabol said. “It’s important to us that our students feel included in the Nursing program from day one, and that includes having a safe space for introduction to the Nursing atmosphere.”
Nursing majors’ exposure to the CSC’s realistic healthcare environment coincides with their development of critical communication and experiential skills. Making the students comfortable in the CSC during their first and second years is imperative, Sabol said.
“In their first two years, students’ time in the CSC socializes them to the language of healthcare and nursing, for the topics being discussed, and the Code of Ethics,” Sabol said. “This way, when the courses become more skill- and knowledge-focused during their junior and senior years, the concepts and difficult ethical/societal topics are not as daunting.”
Having already explored the CSC, third-year Nursing majors are already prepared to apply the clinical and critical judgment skills required to be adaptable, highly skilled nurses in today’s society.
The High-Fidelity suites contain manikins that are enhanced with a pulse and the ability to blink, breathe, and talk, allowing participants to use critical judgement and act accordingly. As the rest of the class is in the Debriefing Room, and guided by faculty, students in the lab are given the chance to think, react, and feel by using this high-fidelity technology.
The CSC’s Virtual Reality (VR) equipment enhances the realistic and functional supplies and equipment throughout the center. Students will use VR to participate in a variety of clinical scenarios in different environments, including high-risk situations that may be difficult to replicate in the lab. Applying their knowledge in “real” situations while engaging all their senses will help to decrease errors in when students are practicing in actual healthcare settings.
Cabrini’s Anatomage Table gives Nursing students the ability to use a technologically advanced anatomy visualization system during their Anatomy & Physiology and Pathophysiology & Pharmacology courses. Beyond seeing images or diagrams in textbooks, the table enables students to view anatomy structures in 3D, providing a more in-depth learning experience.
Nursing Program Development Coordinator and doctoral candidate Carly Kearney, MSN, RN, says that the technology featured in the CSC and the University’s science labs, combined with the Nursing program’s commitment to experiential learning and its humanistic approach, will prepare Cabrini’s Nursing graduates to become leaders who succeed professionally while contributing to local, national, and global communities.
“Whether a member of the faculty or staff, student or patient, we are individual humans with unique lived experiences,” Kearney said. “Learning from and about one another helps us better understand those who have perhaps traveled on a different path than the one we have explored. These reflections and meaningful discussions play a vital role in our humanistic approach education, and in turn, patient care. These interactions help us to better appreciate the unique perspectives of others when reflecting upon the overarching themes within healthcare.”
Nursing faculty and staff begin to meet with incoming Nursing majors in the summer “to engage with them on a human level, to get to know them, and to begin planning for their academic success,” according to Kearney, who emphasized the importance of having the students spend time in the CSC from the beginning. “Molding the program around them as we go is very important to us.”
The generosity of multiple donors contributed to the creation of the Clinical Simulation Center. The Maguire Foundation’s $1 million gift to the Nursing program provided significant operating and capital support as well as funding to establish Cabrini’s inaugural Maguire Nursing Scholars. A $37,010 grant from the McLean Contributionship also helped to fund the CSC’s innovative learning environment, and the Anatomage Table, which is used by Nursing majors and all science students at Cabrini, was made possible with a $100,000 grant from the George I. Alden Trust.