Minneapolis campus opens state-of-the-art simulation lab

Nursing simulation lab on the Minneapolis campus

Patient simulators line the renovated rooms in the new nursing simulation lab on the Minneapolis campus of St. Catherine University. Photo by Hilary Stein '14.

New nursing simulation lab

On April 25, 2012, the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health celebrated the Grand Opening of a new state-of-the-art nursing simulation lab on the Minneapolis campus of St. Catherine University.

The Nursing Applied Learning Lab, which was completed over the winter, features several connected simulation rooms on the 6th floor of Old Main and the Education Building as well as a simulation area for debriefing on the 7th floor. The renovation project was made possible by a gift from donors Patricia and Peter Frechette.

During the Grand Opening, guests were invited to tour the facility and learn about the nursing simulation exercises that are being used in the lab to educate students in healthcare fields at St. Kate's. More than 200 students had participated in simulations in the new lab by the time of the grand opening event.

Real-life scenarios

Patient simulators, commonly referred to as mannequins, are set up in hospital beds in each of the simulation lab rooms, with a variety of patient ethnicities represented. The rooms are fully equipped with medical devices that students might use in the clinical setting, as well as cabinets, sinks and hygienic materials. Also included in the new lab is a model of an electronic medical record that was built into the systems on the Minneapolis campus.

"We're really providing, around everything that we do, some kind of situation or scenario," said Sandra Morisette, RN, Associate Professor of Nursing, during the Grand Opening. She said the lab will give students the opportunity to practice providing care to a group of standardized patients in a safe environment where they can learn from their mistakes.

Faculty gave each of the mannequins an identity that includes a complete medical history. The identities, which account for ethnic and religious backgrounds in addition to pre-existing conditions like diabetes or acute coronary syndrome, represent the personal characteristics and risk factors students might encounter when they are working with real patients in clinical settings.

"Those patients are going to be interspersed throughout the curriculum," said Morisette. "We'll basically apply what students are learning from the patients in the lab."

A sacred space

Faculty in the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health and the College for Applied and Continuing Learning feel very fortunate to be teaching in the sacred space that contains the new simulation lab.

The Minneapolis campus has been used for nursing education since 1887, when the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet founded St. Mary’s School of Nursing. Later the college was named St. Mary’s Junior College and it merged with St. Kate's in 1986, creating the Minneapolis campus.

To honor the tradition of nursing education begun by the Sisters of St. Joseph 125 years ago, faculty, staff and administrators celebrated the Grand Opening with a blessing of the new nursing simulation lab on April 25, 2012.

"We feel very honored to be in this space, where we can teach students in a holistic way that's driven by ethical Catholic teachings," said Suellen Campbell, Ph.D., RN, Program Director.

By Melissa Kaelin