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Berkeley College Practical Nurse student

Simulation Plays a Critical Role in Preparing Students for Nursing Careers



Berkeley College Practical Nurse student


The Dover campus of Berkeley College has been consolidated into the Woodland Park, NJ campus. Additional New Jersey campuses are located in Newark, Paramus, and Woodbridge. Programs are also offered at the New York City, Brooklyn, and White Plains, NY campuses, as well as Berkeley College Online®.

The nursing labs at Berkeley College provide students with the opportunity to practice their skills in a safe environment and under the supervision of instructors. Students in the Practical Nurse program in Clifton and Dover work in labs that simulate a hospital environment fully equipped with medical supplies used by practicing nurses.

Medical scenarios help students think on their feet

The nursing lab in Clifton is equipped with a high-tech mannequin that replicates such human functions as breathing, blood pressure, and lung and bowel sounds. In the lab, students learn how to perform tasks that include taking blood pressure, inserting catheters, setting up and monitoring IV fluids, taking blood samples, and changing dressings.

“There’s a lot of research on simulation that shows it’s a wonderful learning opportunity because it’s safe,” said Katherine Sullivan, Ph.D., Berkeley College Chair, Practical Nurse and Patient Care Technician programs, School of Health Studies. “Students have the opportunity to work in critical scenarios without the anxiety of causing harm to a real person.”

During competency practice sessions conducted in the nursing labs, students at Berkeley College are given a medical scenario. For example, a student might be asked to check on a patient who had undergone surgery just three hours before and was now being returned to the nurse’s unit. The instructor who is monitoring the student’s activities can program the mannequin to replicate different medical complications.

“The instructor might make the mannequin bleed internally, causing a drop in blood pressure. If the student reacts by laying the patient flat – the correct thing to do – then the instructor makes the blood pressure improve,” Dr. Sullivan said.

Debriefing provides time to reflect

The safety of the lab allows students to think through each action they take, and a debriefing follows every practice session.

“We all sit down and talk about what a student could have done better or worse,” Dr. Sullivan said. “That reflection piece after lab sessions is really important in helping students decide what to do the next time around. In real life, things happen so quickly you don’t have time to reflect.”