Berry Nursing Program Simulation Lab

Berry College alumni Tim Goodwin, left, watches nursing student Rita Shawcross demonstrate the injections simulator station in the nursing simulation laboratory Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (Jeremy Stewart/RN-T.com)

Beds containing ailing patients greeted visitors to Berry College’s Nursing Simulation Laboratory, but the moans and coughs were all electronic.

With new tools in place to enhance the hands-on learning experience of students, Berry College opened the doors to its nursing department Thursday so faculty, trustees and donors could get a look at what they have at their disposal.

A crowd of supporters attended a special dedication of the laboratory today on the steps of Evans Hall on the school’s main campus.

“In two short years, Berry nursing has come a long way,” Berry Dean of Nursing Vanice Roberts said. “We have been amazed at the community support that has allowed us to become a solid program.”

Located in a newly renovated section on the second floor of Evans Hall, the nursing simulation laboratory includes several high-end instruments and learning tools that provide students a sense of the real world in a controlled environment.

The lab includes four human-patient simulators, which can be programmed to exhibit different symptoms such as erratic heart rate and abnormal blood pressure.

Each one is connected to monitors, which display their “vitals” and a control pad that can be used to simulate giving them a dose of medicine to try to resolve their health problems.

“The biggest thing is the chance for the students to practice real-life scenarios like they will face in a hospital in real time,” Roberts said.

“They are exposed to patient response, all the initial nervousness and are required to think on their feet with the opportunity to do it themselves,” Roberts continued.

In addition, the lab has an injection station where students can practice finding a vein, giving shots or inserting intravenous needles into the arm. There is also a medical dispenser that selects the proper amount of a prescription and a birthing simulator.

“This way, each student gets the whole experience and is not pushed to the side by the staff in a real hospital setting,” Roberts said, adding that the trained medical staff would be completely right by removing training nurses from such a situation.

Roberts said the equipment being put to use by the Berry Nursing Program is not available at every school and she is grateful to the donors who helped make the lab possible.

She also said that when a lab is available, there is a lot of work that goes into making sure the simulators are continuously utilized.

“It takes commitment and dedication from the faculty to take the time and set them up properly and use them correctly,” Rogers said.

The first class of 19 nursing students began this semester, and Roberts said she expects a larger second class.

“Our program is very high-rigor with lots of opportunity for meaningful work, and spiritual and moral growth,” Roberts said. “It goes with the signature of Berry — ‘Head, Heart and Hands.’”

The program has been based out of the section of Evans Hall since the end of July.