Inside Forcina’s high-tech nursing lab

By Ashton Leber
Social Media Editor

High-tech recording systems, individual screening rooms and up-to-date equipment creates a top-notch learning environment for soon-to-be healthcare professionals.

The new fully equipped Nursing Simulation Laboratory in Forcina Hall enables students to practice hands-on, patient-based care.

Prior to the laboratory’s opening in the Fall 2016 semester, the nursing department struggled with space in its laboratories located in the Paul Loser Hall basement.

The 3,000-square-foot Forcina Lab is dedicated to providing students the opportunity to learn in a sophisticated environment with several new features.

“Forcina Hall has a dedicated room for debriefing, which is essential after any simulation experience,” said Norma Brown, the Simulation and Clinical Learning Resource Center coordinator. “However, this space could and can also be reconfigured for a simulation room and will be used to simulate a community home health visit this semester, which will help prepare students for the actual home visits.”

Students gain real life experience. (tcnj.edu)

The lab also includes two examination rooms and four beds to simulate providing care to patients using adult and pediatric mannequins, according to Brown.  

Essential to the debriefing session, the lab has recording equipment and the mannequins have monitors in them, which allows students to go back and critique areas that need improvement.

Simulation is crucial to the nursing curriculum, according to Brown.

“Simulation is an excellent educational modality to foster this creative challenge to incorporate preventative care into all aspects of healthcare,” she said.

Kristina DeMilt, a junior nursing major, said the lab operates like a real hospital.

“We have a drug dispenser, we’re able to call the doctor for orders and we can view the vitals on an overhead TV,” she said.

DeMilt said the lab gives her the opportunity to apply what she’s learned in the classroom.

I am less nervous when I am in the hospital because I have already spent countless hours in the lab perfecting my skills,” she said.

While the labs in Loser’s basement will remain operable, students now have additional space to practice in Forcina Hall.

“In the Loser lab, the patient beds are crowded and close together, which makes practicing our skills challenging at times,” said Paige Hammel, a sophomore nursing major. “For example, stretchers and wheelchairs do not fit in between the beds very well.”

Hammel said the labs in Loser are outdated, but the new beds in Forcina are nearly identical to the ones used in hospitals today.

While Hammel said the technology in Loser is sufficient for learning basic nursing skills, she is eager to become an upperclassman so she can regularly use the lab in Forcina.

Forcina Hall is home to many services, including a new high-tech nursing lab. (Photo courtesy of Tom Ballard)

Forcina’s lab is mostly used by upperclassmen because the newer technology helps them prepare for real-life scenarios.

The mannequins go through different scenarios and students must respond,” Hammel said. “This could be something like cardiac arrest where the nursing student must use the appropriate nursing interventions to bring the patient back to health.”

According to Brown, the College is “recognized by the National League of Nursing as a school that demonstrates sustained, evidence-based and substantive innovation in student learning and professional development.”

As a result of these achievements, the program has set high standards and will continue to improve its quality of education for those pursuing a profession in healthcare.

Nursing students are required to pass their exams with scores greater than a 75 percent and are asked to drop a course if they receive more than one grade below this standard.

“The biggest achievement (of nursing students) is not failing the exams,” DeMilt said. “Or doing something in clinical that we practiced in the lab, such as inserting a catheter or giving an injection.”

The nursing department is thrilled with the up-to-date technology and the significant amount of room within the Forcina lab.

Hammel said the one thing missing from Forcina is a mural like the one in Loser.

“A few years ago, the art club painted a mural on the wall depicting windows and the scene of a hospital to add some color and brightness to the room,” Hammel said. “This helps make the Loser labs feel more homey.”

Luckily, nursing students will get the best of both laboratories.

“Having the nursing labs in Loser with the addition of the nursing simulation lab in Forcina creates opportunities for our students here at the College to become outstanding professional nursing leaders,” Brown said.