Two of them have names. There’s the olive-skinned Apollo, with black hair and a strongly defined chin. And there’s Lucina: a fair-skinned brunette capable of simulating birth. The two lifelike mannequins are among eight high-fidelity patient simulators featured in the new state-of-the-art nursing labs at St. Joseph’s College.
“The simulators are the next best thing to having a live patient. It’s an essential component to the program,” Director of Nursing Maria Fletcher, Ph.D., said. “They’re mannequins who interact through computer programs, so that the nursing students can experience complications. Students need to respond to the complications and administer interventions.”
Apollo, Lucina and their six colleagues are part of a renovation project that is essential to the expanding needs of SJC’s undergraduate nursing major, which kicked off in 2015. The College has transformed entire building wings at SJC Brooklyn and SJC Long Island to make room for the expansion.
At SJC Brooklyn, the new nursing labs are on the third floor of the McEntegart Library; SJC Long Island’s nursing labs, made possible by a grant secured from the Regional Economic Development Council, are on O’Connor Hall’s third floor.
“The simulators are the next best thing to having a live patient. It’s an essential component to the program.” Maria Fletcher, Ph.D., director of nursing at SJC
The renovations on each campus include a computer room, three debriefing rooms, two simulation labs with a control room in the middle and a skills room with six hospital beds.
The College has offered a blended RN-BSN since 1988 and a master’s degree in nursing since 2005. Adding a four-year nursing degree is a new path for SJC, Dr. Fletcher said. During the first two years of the program, students complete their core liberal arts curriculum.
“For our juniors, this semester is the start of the two years of concentrated nursing, so it marks the first semester that these students are taking nursing courses,” said Dr. Fletcher, noting that 40 juniors are majoring in nursing on each campus. “These students don’t have any background in nursing, so these labs are essential. So many of the skills need to be practiced before they go out into the clinical field.”
The new labs are the perfect place to do so. With four computerized patients on each campus – including Apollo and Lucina at SJC Long Island – nursing students can now experience what it’s like to interact with actual patients in a hospital.
“I’m thankful for the support we’ve gotten from everyone, from the Board of Trustees to the administrators, to other departments who’ve worked so closely and collaboratively with us,” she said. “But I’m most thankful for my faculty, who have really just embraced this.”