Expanded labs to address growing need for nurses
A $950,000 expansion of the nursing labs at Penn State Behrend gives students greater access to high-fidelity simulation mannequins, which can mimic almost any health emergency, from cardiac arrest and epileptic seizures to a neonatal complication that endangers both the mother and her mannequin baby.
The real value of those mannequins is in the number of students who now will have access to them: By expanding its simulation labs and upgrading its nursing skills lab—where classes can now watch video feeds from each of three new simulation bays—Behrend can open its nursing program to more students. The added capacity can support a 40 percent increase in enrollment.
“We have a vested interest in expanding and enhancing our nursing education,” Chancellor Ralph Ford said. “Many of our nursing graduates stay in this area. They become the front-line health care providers for us, and for our families.”
The need for nurses is expected to increase 15 percent nationwide between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“There is an overwhelming need for nurses right now,” said Kim Streiff, Behrend nursing program coordinator.
The new simulation bays better prepare students for the countless scenarios nurses face. One lab is designed for intensive care and medical-surgical simulations; a second is equipped for obstetrical/neonatal simulations. The third lab can be adapted for use in medical-surgical, pediatric, or psychiatric simulations.
“You can’t always predict the type of patient you’re going to see,” Streiff said. “These labs allow us to create and simulate different scenarios, which give students an opportunity to practice in a realistic learning environment.”
The expansion was funded by a grant from the Orris C. and Beatrice Dewey Hirtzel Memorial Foundation, which is based in North East. Previous gifts from the foundation provided more than $1 million for science education at Behrend.
Additional equipment in the simulation bays was purchased through a grant from the Dr. and Mrs. Arthur W. Phillips Charitable Trust, of Oil City.