Nursing receives grant to add more simulators

Henderson State University’s Department of Nursing will enhance its Health Education Simulation Center (HESC) with additional OB and pediatric simulation equipment, thanks to a $149,265 grant from the Blue & You Foundation.

The foundation recently awarded almost $3.5 million in grants to 40 health improvement programs in Arkansas.

Henderson’s nursing department will use its grant funds to purchase an advanced full body birthing simulator with accurate anatomy and functionality. “SimMom” will allow multi-professional OB training of birth management.

A second simulator, “SimJunior,” will represent a six-year-old boy that simulates a wide range of conditions from a healthy, talking child, to an unresponsive, critical patient with no vital signs.

SimJunior allows learners to focus on a broad range of pediatric skills to gain exposure and practical experience of life-threatening pediatric problems.

“It is becoming more difficult to place our students in pediatric clinical rotations,” said Judy Carlyle, assistant professor of nursing. “This grant will allow Henderson nursing students to experience pediatric simulations within the HESC. It will also allow Henderson Nursing to offer our students and our community “labor and delivery” experiences with the addition of an obstetric simulator.”

Dr. Shelly Austin, chair of Henderson’s nursing department, said, “Simulation provides real-life experiences for our students to practice different patient scenarios in a safe environment. It allows them to experience patient scenarios that they may not see in their clinical settings if the opportunity doesn’t arise.

“It will also provide OB and pediatric clinical experiences which are limited in our area. Because of that, we are able to maintain the 25 percent increased enrollment of nursing students.”

In May, Henderson introduced its “Nursing Anne” and “Sim Baby” simulators that were purchased with Blue & You Foundation grant funds received last year.

Henderson hopes to increase enrollment for its nursing programs by replacing 25-50 percent of clinical hours with simulation, which will help relieve the limitations from available clinical space.

“The increased enrollment will help alleviate the nursing shortage in our region and help us reach the goal of 80 percent BSN nurses available by 2020 as recommended by the Institute of Medicine,” Austin said.

Henderson aspires to be a comprehensive Health Education Simulation Center to allow the university to help improve healthcare in the rural impoverished population of its six-county service area.

The simulation center will be available to all health professional students at Henderson, including those seeking health-related degrees other than nursing. 

“Nursing will be designated as the primary user of the HESC, but we will encourage students in our other health professional degrees to utilize it,” Austin said.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield established the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas in 2001 as a charitable foundation to promote better health in the state. The foundation awards grants annually to non-profit or governmental organizations and programs that positively affect the health of Arkansas.

In its 18 years of operation, the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas has awarded $36 million to 1,922 health improvements in Arkansas.