Success Story

SLS Combines Hands-On Experience and Big Picture Perspectives for Weatherford College LVN Program

Nurses studying

While many nursing schools across the US face the challenge of finding enough clinical sites for training, simulations provide educators like Lori Boyd, BSN, RN, a comprehensive and safe learning environment where students can apply skills from the classroom to the clinical setting. As the director of the Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) program at Weatherford College, she believes that simulation is going to be the future of nursing education.

“Our college is growing, and simulation through the Simulation Learning System (SLS) and mannequins is a big part of our commitment to using technology as effectively as possible to integrate our students’ learning experience,” says Boyd.

LVN Program Instructor Renee Smith, MSN, RN, understands that vision. Her efforts have been key to fully leveraging the suite of Elsevier products, using the SLS toolkit to effectively incorporate lab-based simulations into their nursing curriculum.

“SLS lets us teach evidence-based and research-based curriculum along with simulation,” Smith says. “We use it to prepare our students to take care of patients in a safe environment: taking what they learn in the simulation environment, connecting it to their medical coursework, and applying it in their clinical setting.”

Providing the Big Picture Perspective

Starting in the first semester of a student’s education, Smith provides a comprehensive Elsevier product overview so students can see the big picture of how their classroom, simulation lab and clinic experiences will work together.

“When we do orientation, we complete the pre-sim manager part of the SLS product, so that they can be prepared for the actual simulation part,” Smith says. “They look at the pathophysiology and etiology and use the links inside SLS to access the most current evidence-based research on medical and nursing management of the patient.”

The resource section updates itself and provides links to resources within Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Smith also finds it helpful to show students the SLS drug reference to begin getting some exposure to pharmacology, even though they don’t start doing their medication courses until second semester.

Smith ensures that students understand and use the full value of the Elsevier learning tools. For example, students have access to SimChart starting from their first semester throughout the program. They become familiar with how to use the data as part of a holistic approach to their patients. “We use it a lot in skills, sometimes we’ll pull it up in the classroom to engage students and bring a patient right into the classroom,” Smith noted.

Faculty introduce the multi-disciplinary care approach through SLS role identification, in which students play various members of the healthcare team. SLS also has embedded videos with links to the current textbook to reinforce learning and expose students to procedures they may not experience during the simulation, but which might potentially occur in clinicals, like inserting a chest tube.

Enhancing Faculty Effectiveness

From a faculty standpoint, efficiency and integration provide great value. “SLS is the whole package. It serves as a reference point for preparing and running the simulation all the way through to the debrief,” Smith said. “I don’t have to spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel and trying to create scenarios that tie to the curriculum. Everything is completely prepared in advance.”

Smith noted three key areas in which SLS supports their students’ progression:

  1.  NCLEX client category needs are integrated into a cohesive picture. “Students truly get to visualize what safe and effective care for a patient looks like.”
  2. Evaluation rubrics help students develop QSEN competencies. “The evaluation tools examine what students have learned thus far and where gaps can be addressed through additional exercises.”
  3. Learning from mistakes promotes quality improvement. “We address mistakes as a group to determine the root cause and discuss how will correct it and prevent it in the future.”

“The infusion of these elements starts in semester one, which really helps to promote our students’ critical thinking by the time they get to that third semester,” Smith said.

Develop a Path and Access Best Practices

Boyd advises other faculty to keep an open mind when making decisions about your curriculum. “Some may not be accustomed to using technology. But, it’s important to look to the future, identify people’s strengths and then tap into them to develop what works for your unique program.”

According to Smith, seek out a mentor. “Elsevier heroes are so valuable. When you can interact with people who have used the program, it’s much easier to see what it offers and how you will realize the value of saving time as you build evidence-based practice curriculum.”

The faculty at Weatherford realize that their role in helping students become successful is to grow and learn with them. Integrating and fully utilizing SLS and other toolkits available through Elsevier can make instructors more effective in guiding students’ progress in their nursing profession – and ultimately impact and change the lives of their patients.

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