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Monday, February 14, 2011

Senior nursing students have a training day at UNCP

Twenty-one senior nursing students spent January 25 on UNC Pembroke’s main campus in two unique workshops.

Caroline Gus and Carol McDonald in class

Caroline Gus and Carol McDonald in class

Black Line

In the morning, representatives from Southeastern Regional Medical Center (SRMC) presented an introductory workshop on its Process Excellence program. Adapted from Toyota’s successful model, the program is increasing efficiency while adding value to patient experiences at the hospital. 

SRMC is a long-time UNCP partner. The University’s pre-licensure program is located on SRMC’s campus.

In the afternoon, the nursing students went to a new and very different hospital setting for training. They immersed themselves in cyberspace with Mass Communication professor, Dr. Tony Curtis. The students performed real-world clinicals at UNCP’s virtual nursing hospital in Second Life.

SRMC’s Caroline Glus and Carol McDonald discussed the 3-year-old initiative to change the work culture and improve service delivery processes at the hospital. Facing a future of diminishing reimbursement from programs like Medicare that are challenging the hospital to operate with tighter budgets, SRMC is working smarter.

“It’s not about tools; it is a way of thinking, and when everybody is thinking in the new way, it becomes really effective,” said Glus, who is the Process Excellence coordinator.

Thus far, 350 hospital employees on 18 teams have been trained, she said. So, why train nursing students?

“This past year, we also spoke with Robeson Community College’s nursing students” Glus said. “These students are the future, and this is the environment they will be working in.”

The class – Leadership in Nursing - is instructed by Dr. Dena Evans. Also present were faculty members, Dr. Thelma Floyd and Deborah Groves.

“This is certainly pertinent in any leadership position in our current times with the economy as it is, so this was a timely opportunity for the students,” Groves said. “Caroline and Carol gave real-life examples about how the concepts were applied.

“This will offer our students an opportunity, as they begin to interview for jobs, to have recent exposure to a very timely approach to management that may give them an edge with potential employers,” she said.

The message was not lost on William Sumner, a member of the class.

“We heard about this program first in a talk from their CEO (Joann Anderson),” Sumner said. “When the CEO is talking about it, you know it’s important.”

Angela Azzone said the idea of bottom-up management is a good one.

“Everywhere I have worked, it was about the manager telling us what to do and how to do it,” Azzone said. “Having the people who do the work make changes makes more sense.”

CYBER CLINIC

Dr. Curtis built a cyber hospital on UNCP’s virtual campus so students can work under controlled conditions with faculty members in the nursing program.

Deborah Groves, nursing instructor, works with student Jessica Trost

Deborah Groves, nursing instructor, works with student Jessica Trost

Black Line

“Students immerse themselves in real-world clinical scenarios while in the safety of the virtual world,” Dr. Curtis said. “Simulations are created and facilitated, which foster students’ ability to care for diverse client populations across the lifespan.”

The virtual teaching hospital is providing experiential learning for nursing students in coordination with the Nursing Department.

The extensive facility simulates a real hospital, and it works well, said Dr. Evans, who began working with Dr. Curtis last summer. They have created a number of specific scenarios for nursing students.

“It provides students with a safe environment in which to engage their classmates (avatars) in a variety of scenarios,” Dr. Evans said.

“This constructivist approach to learning fosters critical thinking and clinical decision making, enhances self-efficacy and allows students to make meaningful connections to previous learning, while in the safety of a virtual environment,” Dr. Evans continued.

“Nursing students can enter the 3D virtual-reality world for orientation to the latest tools required in the nursing program while directing their own learning outcomes,” she continued.

Dr. Curtis noted the virtual hospital facility is online 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, so students can practice at their own time and pace in addition to working their scheduled clinical hours.

PARTNERSHIPS

Working in concert with faculty across campus and building partnerships with major health care providers like SRMC has been a hallmark of UNCP’s growing nursing program. Since its start, the pre-licensure program has been located in Lumberton at SRMC main campus.

Dr. Curtis, who has been using Second Life in the classroom for four years, built UNCP’s three-year-old virtual campus and its new training hospital.

“Nursing students can enter the 3D virtual-reality world for orientation to the latest tools required in the nursing program while directing their own learning outcomes,” Dr. Evans said.

Dr. Curtis noted the virtual hospital facility is online 24-hours a day, seven days a week, so students can practice at their own time and pace in addition to working their scheduled clinical hours.

When opening day spring classes were cancelled on January 10 by a snowstorm in Pembroke, a CNN iReporter was delighted to find eager students flocking to their nursing class at the virtual hospital. Her story, “Future Medicine in Second Life,” can be viewed at http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-539241.

“In fact, any interested person from the University community can log into Second Life and tour the virtual campus at their convenience,” said Dr. Curtis. “Anyone who would like to do so can send a message in-world to my avatar, Stone Semyorka, requesting a notecard with landmarks for teleporting to the 50 buildings and outdoor learning centers on the campus.”

 “Students log on with their computers from home, school, work or wherever they have a broadband Internet connection,” Dr. Curtis says. “I estimate some 250 UNCP students have taken part in a variety of course activities on the virtual campus.”

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