Licensed to Care
For nursing students, practice makes perfect
From the first day on the job, a nurse has to be able to think critically in intense moments. She must be confident in her assessments; he must skillfully communicate rationale for interventions. Lives are very often on the line.
The School of Nursing teaches caregivers how to thrive in this context by providing them real and realistic medical situations by which to learn. Refurbished and expanded Skinner Hall houses five labs that are outfitted with technology-smart mannequins, beds and wall-mounted medical equipment—these labs simulate real medical facilities and conditions, preparing nurses to respond to real life health care situations with confidence and expertise. “The labs give our students practice in a safe environment. They are a bridge between the classroom and clinical settings,” says Helene Cunningham, director of the simulation labs and nursing faculty member.
The approximately 45 clinical faculty members who teach in the labs also benefit from the new facilities. They can create a range of simulations from common scenarios to situations that are high-risk and rare. Adds Cunningham, “The new labs encourage more research projects as well as cross-disciplinary studies.”
The ability to train job-ready nurses who can go out the first day and succeed is critical to helping solve the nursing shortage in the United States. Dr. Michael Foley ’72, former physician for the Boston Red Sox and donor to the Skinner Hall project, says the nurse training underway at UMass Amherst brings him comfort. “As a physician and as a prospective patient, the thought of not being able to receive urgent care near my home because of insufficient numbers of nurses sends chills up my spine.”