Nursing students tend to a birthing simulator and its newborn baby inside a new Washtenaw Community College nursing lab. | Photo by Kelly Gampel


Communications Manager

As the Washtenaw Community College nursing faculty were in Chicago accepting National League for Nursing Center of Excellence in Nursing Education distinction recently, crews back on campus were putting the finishing touches on more than 2,800 square feet of new nursing lab space.

Designed to look and function as actual hospital patient rooms, the renovated space on the first floor of the Technical and Industrial Building includes a six-bed Nursing Skills Lab and a Nursing Simulation Lab that consists of a nurses’ station and two patient rooms with fully-functioning hospital headwall systems.

An audio/visual system in the Nursing Simulation Lab allows instructors to record students’ interactions with patients for later review and critique.

The $450,000 project was designed to International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning standards and also includes a new 24-person classroom and a debriefing room.

“The new labs really offer a unique learning opportunity to our students,” said Dean of Health Services Dr. Valerie Greaves. “Providing this hospital-like environment complements our existing skills and simulation labs and allows us to provide even more real-life experiences.”

The featured new piece of equipment in the lab space is the Gaumard S2200 Victoria, or Victoria for short, a high-tech labor and birthing patient simulator.

Victoria inhabits the space alongside the Laerdal SimMan 3G that was purchased in 2017. Advanced robots like Victoria and SimMan are changing the face of healthcare education with their life-like symptoms and responses to treatment.

Victoria simulates realistic birthing experiences, including normal delivery, breech, shoulder dystocia and C-sections; complete with programmable vital signs, head movement, crying and joint articulation. She can also be used as a non-pregnant simulator.

The simulators’ reactions are controlled by a team of WCC faculty and staff beyond a one-way mirror. Using a computer dashboard, they can make Victoria and SimMan’s physical responses to the students’ treatment mimic real-life scenarios, adjusting their heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory sounds and other vital signs accordingly.

Students’ interactions with the patients are videotaped by overhead cameras for later review and analysis, called debriefing.

Greaves says research shows the use of simulation labs is more or equally beneficial for nursing students in comparison with actual clinical time, when students are placed at medical facilities. In 2016, the Michigan Board of Nursing declared that up to 50-percent of nursing clinical time can be spent in a simulation lab.

Also included among the technologically advanced equipment in the lab space is an automated medication dispensing system with a fingerprint identification system.

“This new lab space will provide better simulation in skills training to help prepare our nursing students for real-life experiences,” said WCC Simulation Coordinator Benjamin Morhan.

“It will help our instructors integrate standards of best practice simulation, preparing our student nurses to deliver safe clinical care and it will help the student nurse develop critical thinking skills in order to care for complex patients.”