Behind the hospital curtains: MCC-Health Science Institute’s Virtual Hospital

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100 Years, 100 Stories

Simulation education was first introduced to the MCC-Penn Valley nursing program in 2006.  MCC-Penn Valley was awarded $800,000+ to purchase human patient simulators with the OneKC WIRED grant, quickly changing the design and instructional delivery of the nursing and EMS curriculum.

Sandy McIlnay, Director of Health Sciences and Virtual Hospital visionary, led an innovative team of officers, administrators, faculty and staff throughout the implementation of simulation education.  The simulation center went from a two room simulation center to an impressive 10,000 square foot Virtual Hospital within a three-year period.  The Virtual Hospital was completed and opened for business as part of the Health Science Institute in January 2010, providing an unmatched learning environment for students studying nursing, emergency medical services, physical therapy and other healthcare disciplines. The Virtual Hospital now includes 16 high-fidelity simulators, six large patient rooms, six high-tech debriefing rooms, control rooms, classrooms, meeting space and state-of-the-art audio-visual technology, and now, Victoria, a wireless birthing simulator.

Competition for clinical placements makes finding open slots difficult for many nursing students. A recent study shows that up to half of those clinical hours can be replaced in a high-quality simulation lab with no drop-off in learning. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, students in such programs enter their careers just as ready for clinical practice as peers from more traditional programs. MCC was one of 10 schools selected for participation in the study, alongside Johns Hopkins, School of Nursing.

The simulated experience provides MCC students with real-life experience needed to feel confident and empowered to be safe care providers in the real world. “Simulation is a powerful learning tool. We, the simulation faculty and the course faculty (content expert), utilize theory to create the perfect scenario – meaningful experiences that promote psychomotor skill development, clinical reasoning, emotional engagement and reflective thinking,” said Liz Santander, Virtual Hospital coordinator. “I feel very fortunate to be part of this fabulous learning environment.”

The Virtual Hospital was one of the first academic simulation centers to receive national accreditation from The Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSIH) and will be seeking reaccreditation in 2015 and implementing a three to five year strategic plan. Santander, went on to say, “[The reaccreditation and strategic planning process] will help to not only sustain our current simulation education but allow for growth, innovation and creativity.”