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New equipment allows even better real-world training for UFV nursing students

High-tech simulation mannequins, automated medication dispensing system coming to UFV thanks to provincial funding
From left: UFV nursing students Kennedy Galley and Lindsey Roufosse with Health Sciences Associate Dean Cindy Schultz, Dean Lara Duke and students Sagneet Sandhu and Ritika Davesar. In the middle is a pediatric training mannequin that students practise their skills on. Three new high-tech mannequins are coming to the nursing program thanks to provincial government funding. (UFV photo)

Hospital patients will be treated by new nurses who are better prepared than ever, thanks to equipment upgrades in UFV’s learning labs.

The B.C. government’s Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills is providing one-time targeted funding up to $432,127 that will pay for three high-tech simulation mannequins along with an automated medication dispensing system.

The items support UFV’s Licensed Practical Nursing Access Health program expansion.

One of the mannequins will be adult size, another child size, and the third is a maternity mannequin. These mannequins will expose students to a variety of patient-care scenarios, in a safe and controlled environment where they can practise and learn from their mistakes before entering the clinical setting.

Students’ access to pediatric and childbearing family clinical experiences is sometimes limited. These mannequins will provide learning opportunities they might not otherwise get, and the adult mannequin will provide the ability to engage students in high-acuity, critical-event preparation.

“The goal is for students to understand the complexities they will experience when they head to a clinical setting,” says Cindy Schultz, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. “It’s about creating a learning environment where it’s safe to make mistakes. They can make an error on a high-fidelity mannequin, and they can learn from it and understand what went wrong.

“Going to clinical can be anxiety provoking, and we want to better support students so that when they get to a clinical environment, it’s not so scary. They’ll know what to do because they practised it.”

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The funding will also pay for an automated medication dispensing system like the ones students will encounter in hospitals. Nurses go to these machines, look up a patient’s record and request meds, which are then disbursed.

“Medication is where a lot of errors happen in the clinical setting, so if students can practice medication administration here in a realistic environment, they will be better prepared when they get to clinical,” says Lee-Anne Stephen, experiential learning coordinator. “And that equals increased patient safety.”

Once the new equipment is operational, nursing students will develop their skills in a more advanced and realistic manner and be better prepared for the workplace. Stephen said it will lessen the theory-to-practice gap and may even provide more hands-on learning than students would see in a hospital.

“In a clinical setting, nurses often need to take over patient care to ensure safety,” she explains. “But in the lab, students can make a mistake and it’s not going to hurt the mannequin.”

Lara Duke, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, is thrilled to receive the funding and excited about what the money will provide. But she says it’s only the first step toward a larger vision.

“This investment opens the door to further expansion for our lab programming and our lab space, which ultimately leads to better-prepared nursing students graduating from UFV,” Duke says. “It’s addressing current learning needs and advancing how UFV educates nurses so they can support health care in the future.”

Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, believes the funding will pay huge dividends as better prepared nurses enter the workplace.

“The high-quality education that nursing students receive at UFV will help prepare them to work with a diverse range of patients in hospitals throughout the province,” Robinson says. “Our government is focused on providing relevant skills training and education through the StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan so people have the opportunity to enter in-demand careers.”