July 12, 2017 at 1:45pm
Dane Lisser

Simulations prepare Millikin nursing students for critical thinking

For the last six years, Millikin University's Summer Nursing Internship program has helped student nurses to begin to "think like a nurse." The six-week program covers various topics including ethics, communication, end of life issues, decision-making processes along with test taking skills.

Students engage in a number of case simulations and gain clinical experience working at HSHS St. Mary's Hospital in Decatur, Ill.

Recently, Millikin students involved in the program engaged in a simulation geared toward rapid response teams. The teams are used in hospitals to prevent what is called "failure to rescue." This is when a patient has symptoms that something is not going well but is not a full code and more resources are needed faster than the usual routes of ordering.

"It's definitely Performance Learning – we try to make the simulations as realistic as possible," said Charlotte Bivens, instructor of nursing at Millikin. "The simulators have heartbeats, pulses and different sounds. It's a safe learning environment as well. It allows the students some time to think because many times in the real situation they don't have a whole lot of time."

Bivens says the simulations give students the chance to prepare for real-life situations.

Millikin School of Nursing

"We try to teach them the process of critical thinking a nurse needs, and going through it in simulations like this is helpful."

Throughout the program, the students are able to explore specialty units that they may not have been exposed to during their other clinical courses. Students develop mentor relationships with experienced nurses, gain experience in critical thinking and develop a professional network.

"It puts us in a role that we don't have to feel nervous," said Morgan Ashby, a senior nursing major from Mt. Zion, Ill. "But it's a way to help us learn what we need to do for the patient in that situation. It's beneficial to have these simulations."

Eight students were enrolled in this year's program. The students worked with high-tech mannequins used for health care instruction and training situations.

Millikin School of Nursing

"I like that we can be a team and brainstorm on certain ideas," said Erin Bradshaw, a senior nursing major from Pana, Ill. "It helps that we work as a team and have our teachers available to guide us and get that critical thinking going."

Bivens noted, "One of the big things that I think is eye-opening for the students is the daily routine – coming into work, working a 12-hour shift, and seeing the energy and knowledge that goes into the work every day."      

The nursing programs at Millikin University foster the development of women and men in a community of life-long learners who are able to envision and shape the future of health care and compose a personal life of meaning and value. The framework for the nursing curricula at Millikin incorporates the School of Nursing mission, goals, and outcomes under the core concepts of person, nursing, environment, and health. For more information about the Millikin School of Nursing, visit millikin.edu/nursing.

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