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Panola College, ETMC Carthage Celebrate New Nursing Simulation Lab

Ribbon cutting ceremonies were held recently in celebration of a new nursing simulation lab in Carthage, the result of collaboration between Panola College and ETMC Carthage.

The lab, comprised of two rooms in the hospital’s monitored care unit, will offer needed space for Panola College’s nursing program to provide students with simulated education experiences. Nursing students will begin using this lab in June, according to Panola College officials.

“We are pleased to partner with ETMC Carthage to provide Panola College’s nursing students with this invaluable learning opportunity. This simulation lab will assist us as we address the shortage of healthcare professionals facing East Texas,” said Dr. Gregory Powell, President of Panola College.

Simulated nursing education
Simulated nursing education covers a broad range of models which can include everything from case studies using actors to portray symptoms (often called low fidelity simulation), through the use of non-interactive mannequins in teaching (referred to as mid-fidelity simulation), to highly sophisticated computerized interactive simulation mannequins (called high-fidelity simulation). The nursing program currently utilizes low- and mid-range simulations, although Panola College plans to introduce high-fidelity simulation at ETMC Carthage as funding through grants or gifts becomes available.


“As technology has developed, nursing educators worldwide are incorporating patient simulators into their clinical curricula. Panola College is proud to be on the leading edge of these innovations,” said Dr. Barbara Cordell, Panola College’s Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences. “The use of simulation in nursing education has increased dramatically over the past five years. Nursing students, clinicians and educators are in agreement that simulation is a valid and valuable teaching strategy.”

ETMC Carthage Administrator Gary Hudson agrees. “We are excited by the possibilities this simulation lab offers in advancing nursing education to Panola College students. Providing realistic situations that allow nursing students to learn and grow in their knowledge will better prepare them for the demands of providing excellent healthcare in their nursing careers. We are pleased to be part of this effort.”

Nursing programs have embraced simulation for its effectiveness in teaching critical thinking and decision making skills. Simulation has been used for years in medicine and in aviation to educate and to ensure competency.

“Classroom training provides one-dimensional learning, while clinical training provides three-dimensional learning. Housing our simulation lab within an actual hospital facility allows students a sense of realism that cannot be provided in a traditional teaching environment,” said Panola College Nursing Simulation Coordinator Melissa Walters. “The simulation lab will be utilized this summer to provide realistic clinical experiences for our maternal, psychiatric and medical/surgical nursing students.”

High-fidelity simulation mannequins
Due to the wide array of diseases and patient conditions, students may not be exposed to important experiences in the clinical setting. That is why Panola College is seeking funds to purchase computerized interactive high-fidelity simulation mannequins for its nursing students. The introduction of an advanced patient simulator would provide Panola College students with enhanced learning opportunities.

“Using the high-fidelity mannequins, nursing students would be presented with various clinical scenarios in order to assess their clinical judgment and skills. If remedial training is needed, students may be exposed to the scenario repeatedly so that they can continue to refine their skills,” Walters said.

Simulation advantages
Simulation offers many advantages, including: assured maintenance of patient safety, a realistic representation of the patient environment and response to nursing intervention; errors can be allowed to escalate to their negative consequences as a teaching tool; all students can receive consistent learning experiences; students can be exposed to experiences that might not otherwise be available in real patients; students can receive immediate feedback on their performance; it fosters team building and training; and simulation is multidimensional, engaging and fun for all involved.

Founded in 1947, Panola College has a rich tradition of helping students achieve their academic and personal goals. Today students can select from more than 50 programs of study representing the most sought after fields in business, industry, and health care. Students also have the option of selecting day, evening, Internet or distance learning courses from accessible and caring instructors at the main campus in Carthage or at centers in Marshall, and Center, Texas.
ETMC is a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life in communities throughout East Texas. Other ETMC facilities include hospitals in Athens, Clarksville, Crockett, Fairfield, Gilmer, Jacksonville, Mt. Vernon, Pittsburg, Quitman, Trinity and Tyler.