Local philanthropist Sidney Sharman has generously donated $350 thousand to build and equip a state-of-the-art simulation lab at VIU. The simulation lab will provide Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students, Practical Nursing (PN) students, and Health Care Assistant (HCA) students with critical hands on experience before they enter their clinical practice. Sharman’s contribution, in addition to Windsor Plywood’s initial funding, ensures that the project can be completed.

Dr. Carol Stuart, Dean of Health & Human Services, expresses her gratitude for Sharman’s contribution which will enhance all BSN, PN, and HCA students’ experiences at VIU. Sharman is VIU’s largest private donor; in 2009 he donated $1 million to support annual scholarships for fourth-year BSN students.

“Mr. Sharman has been very generous in terms of supporting our nursing students. His latest donation has expanded our ability to support all of our students. Up to this point, he’s been supporting students through scholarships which is usually five or six students a year, which is absolutely fantastic that number of students can have the tuition burden relieved. The donation that he’s given this time to construct a simulation lab that will touch the lives of all of our all BSN, PN, and HCA students, because they will all be able to use that lab,” Stuart says.

Stuart says that the simulation lab will be constructed in an existing classroom with three fully equiped hospital rooms built within the classrooms confines.

Stuart says that the contribution will also include high fidelity simulation dolls. The simulation dolls allow the instructors to program them with a particular set of symptoms and respond to the interventions that the students undertake. The dolls are capable of replicating a heartbeat, temperature changes, and respiratory functions. Students learn to assess, treat, and then see the responses of their simulated patient.

Simulation dolls come in low fidelity, medium fidelity, and high fidelity, with high fidelity being the costliest at $65 thousand to $75 thousand per doll, not including the programming and computer needed to operate it.

“We have what would be considered a very basic lab,” Stuart says. “We currently have three to four simulation dolls, which because of the expense of the dolls and the level of sophistication, are not being fully utilized and they have to be moved in and out of the lab. We currently have two nursing labs that have approximately 18 beds with mannequins.”

She adds that the construction of the simulation lab and the purchase of high fidelity simulation dolls (with programming) will bring VIU up to par with other B.C. nursing programs. “North Island College, for example, has a fully outfitted simulation labs already, as does UVic. It really allows us to be competitive in terms of the student experience,” Stuart says.

“First of all, for our program it means that we’ll be equally as attractive as some of the other BSN programs on the island because we can provide students with that opportunity. I think in terms of student learning it means that they will be able to deal with more sophisticated and difficult situations in a safer environment for the students before they go out into practice, therefore they’ll be much better prepared when they go out into their clinical practice scenarios and be more confident dealing with real patients,” Stuart says.

Leslie Sundby, a BSN Nursing instructor who teaches simulation labs, says that the simulation lab will “augment what we already do with students.”

“The students have to do a lot of pretending…they’re able to use the dolls for hands on skills prior to going into the clinical area which they will be doing the skills on live patients. The idea of the simulation lab is that it brings it much closer to what it would be like in a real clinical situation,” Sundby says.

Sundby says that the simulation lab will include a debriefing room where students and their instructors can review footage captured from the lab. “Students are actually videotaped while they’re doing the simulation. After they do the skill on the simulation doll they’re able to come out of the room and, with their instructor, watch the video. They get feedback on how they did themselves so it sets selfassessment, which is very consistent, with adult learning. The instructor can give them feedback on certain things where they did really well and certain areas where they might want to improve on. It’s state-of-the-art and it’s very consistent with different ways to meet different students learning needs and learning styles that has been used very successfully in a number of other settings.”

Tanna Payne, a BSN student at VIU, says that she is excited to work with the fully operational simulation dolls. “It’s actually fantastic that we’re going to not have to work with a still doll and be able to work with something that will be able to give us what feels like a live experience. It’s going to be super valuable.”

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