Clinical Lab

Critical care lab

Integrating the learning environment   

Nursing students at Villanova University are on the cutting edge of information synthesis. Preparing these clinical leaders for the “real world” requires dynamic teaching-learning strategies. In its state-of-the-art home, the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing is at the forefront of best practice: clinical simulation, which when combined with targeted nursing courses and the broad liberal arts education at Villanova, nurtures clinicians and leaders by building not only competence but also confidence and autonomy. 

Simulation: advancing critical thinking and professional knowledge

Transitioning to a new role, that of professional nurse or advanced practice nurse, requires new thinking. Through the use of patient care scenarios, faculty can model and facilitate the development of students’ skills of inquiry, clinical judgment and decision-making. Choosing appropriate assessment techniques and nursing interventions based on patient context, students manage the care of their patients. Computerized human patient simulators are at the core of this teaching-learning method.

The 12,000 square foot Simulation and Learning Resource Center  provides 10 future-oriented clinical simulation labs for:

  • nursing practice skills
  • health assessment
  • adult health
  • maternal/child health
  • critical care nursing
  • nurse anesthesia
  • teaching-learning
  • individualized patient care experiences.

These labs—used by both undergraduate and graduate nursing students—are all supported by advanced technology. The family of simulators, which mimic normal and abnormal human physiology, include male and female adults, a pregnant woman who gives birth, children and infants.

Anesthesia simulation

A controlled setting promoting critical thinking, psychomotor skills learning and evaluation. Undergraduate students work with faculty, classmates and simulators in carefully crafted, increasingly complex scenarios challenging them to practice in a variety of clinical situations.

While freshman begin in the lab with basic communication, patient education and nursing practice skills, sophomores shift into the mannequin model with body system- and basic skill-based scenarios, garnering valuable experience as they move into the clinical area. Juniors and seniors practice the nursing care that accompanies intravenous infusions, hemodynamic waveforms, chest tubes and artificial airways along with encounters such as heart failure, blood transfusion reactions, postpartum hemorrhage or asthma attack. Through the simulation strategy, students then can apply their knowledge in the hospital, clinic or home setting when caring for actual patients.

At the graduate level, nurse anesthetist students practice intubations, managing changing hemodynamic and other physiologic parameters, and the sophisticated operating suite care they deliver to the critically ill patient. Nurse practitioner students build the higher level physical exam skills needed for their new role as primary care providers. Using scenarios with the realistic simulators, they can then also establish differential diagnoses, order and interpret relevant diagnostic studies and tests, prescribe medications and treatments and, in conjunction with the patient and faculty, establish a plan of care for the patient.

Regardless of their nursing experience level, through clinical simulation students improve their competence in terms of knowledge base, critical thinking, nursing process and interventions, communication, socialization and self-evaluation. 

Anesthesia simulation

Enhanced Evaluation

The Simulation and Learning Resource Center digital recording system is the extra “eye” in the room, allowing real-time capture of a scenario or testing situation so that at any moment students and faculty may review the recording and assess performance for feedback or grading purposes. The system can be accessed by faculty on-site or from the convenience of home. Playback features also enable peer review and inter-relater reliability testing.

Faculty Evaluation

Setting the Standard

The Simulation and Learning Resource Center provides three labs for standardized patient [SP] practice scenarios and testing— valuable tools in clinical education. SPs are individuals trained to simulate health conditions accurately and repeatedly in a systematic way, mimicking the appearance, behavior, tone and language of an actual patient. Using SP cases in healthcare education has been shown to improve:

• student confidence
• history-taking skills
• physical assessment skills
• awareness of cultural and behavioral
• student performance in the clinical setting

Through innovative collaborations, undergraduate nursing and graduate nurse practitioner (NP) students are able to interact with a person who portrays a patient with specific health problems.

The SP approach to learning and testing encourages active learning for both groups and promotes their critical thinking and role development through their interactions with peers and professors. Ultimately, it propels them to practice at a higher cognitive level with real patients in the clinical setting—a hallmark of a Villanova nurse.

Psychiatric simulation