By Harry Glazer
Reading a textbook or current medical journal is good. Classroom lectures are fine. Online professional education is useful. But nothing compares to hands-on training, in a real-life scenario, to hone the skills of an active-duty nurse.
The nursing leaders at Parker at McCarrick (PMC) in Somerset, New Jersey understand this fact and have made arrangements to upgrade the professional development opportunities for nursing staff at the home.
Over the summer and early fall Director of Nursing Janet Patullo, Assistant Director of Nursing Nancy Purcell Holmes, and Parker’s Director of Professional Education Lisa Slater investigated local opportunities for PMC nurses to use SIM labs to keep their skills fresh. SIMS labs, often located at medical centers and universities, house high-tech mannequins that can convincingly mimic the various symptoms of a patient in medical distress – eye rolling and uncontrolled shaking indicating a seizure, excessive sweating and high blood pressure to show the signs of a heart attack, and a dozen other medical crisis conditions as well.
After reviewing different options, the group decided to forge a relationship with the SIM Lab at St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick. The St. Peter’s SIM Lab, led by Dr. Nayan Kothari and the Clinical Education, Nursing Research Team, responded enthusiastically to the PMC inquiry and a partnership was born.
In mid-October, a group of eight nurses from PMC came to St. Peter’s for the first encounter with the SIM Lab. Jim Spaulding, BSN, RN, CCRN, presented a one-hour refresher on head-to-toe physical assessment, congestive heart failure, and the most effective interventions. Then the group were introduced to the two SIM mannequins, one male and one female, and practiced the interventions.
The PMC nurses marveled at the life-like qualities of the mannequins. And the nurse leaders were delighted with the effectiveness of the training.
In the weeks ahead, Parker at McCarrick nursing staff will visit the St. Peter’s SIM Lab, in small groups, so that all of the homes’ RNs and LPNs will have participated in the one-hour congestive heart failure course and practiced with the SIM mannequins. Subsequent classes and practice sessions are already planned for the months ahead, to provide hands-on training in Sepsis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) management.
“This partnership is a tremendous benefit to our nurses,” says Janet Patullo, Director of Nursing at Parker at McCarrick. “You can see, at the end of each class, how their familiarity with the ‘right’ procedures grows and their confidence in a crisis situation increases as well. We are grateful to St. Peter’s for partnering with us for this state-of-the-art training.”