(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Nursing students at Texas State Technical College will be learning with some new equipment, thanks to several grants that allowed for the purchase of a Nurse Anne simulator, a SimBaby simulator and a SimMom update, among other teaching essentials.
The simulators, which mimic real patients, give students a real-world sense of their future careers, as well as making for more learning time since clinicals and other outside practicums have been limited because of the pandemic.
TSTC Nursing program director and instructor Shirley Byrd said that TSTC has been very fortunate to have received several grants since 2019 that have helped update the technology and equipment for the program.
“We received funding from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Nursing Shortage Reduction Program, which provided us money for external educational resources for our faculty to improve their teaching methods and outcomes,” she said.
Funding was also received to adjust to the changes in learning because of COVID-19.
“Additionally, we received funding from the Coordinating Board Nursing Innovation Grant Program to support clinical learning experience to mitigate the impediments due to the coronavirus,” Byrd said. “This provided us with equipment and faculty education to facilitate online and distance teaching. We also received Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money from the federal government to purchase equipment that would facilitate our classes during this time, making online teaching easier and more effective.”
Nursing students will be closely monitored by instructors through their time practicing on the simulators and must receive their approval before assignments may be marked as complete.
“This equipment will help the students become independent practitioners without fear of harm to a live patient,” she said. “Students will be able to practice until they are sure of their skills and an instructor has checked them off prior to actually performing the procedure on a patient.”
Byrd said that the simulators are controlled by nursing faculty and can convey a range of reactions, such as pain, crying and even speaking.
“Each instructor has had intense instructions and workshops on the uses and functionality of all equipment and how to use it for the best outcomes,” she said. “The grant monies received were utilized not only to purchase equipment, but also to provide education to all instructors on-site and in distance learning.”
Byrd added that hands-on experience is a vital part of the program.
“This ability to teach students this type of care in the simulation lab is the closest thing we have to utilizing the clinical sites of the hospitals,” she said. “This does not take the place of hands-on nursing care, but it gives us the opportunity to instill confidence and a solid skill set in the student prior to their clinicals.”
To learn more about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.
This lifelike simulator is one of the new pieces of technology that the TSTC Nursing program has introduced into the classroom. Students and faculty have aptly named this particular mannequin “Junior.” (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)