The Future is Now: College of Nursing Opens Leading-Edge Simulation and Learning Lab
Gator Nursing students and faculty can now hone their skills using the latest technology in patient safety.
Gator Nursing students and faculty can now hone their skills using the latest technology in patient safety and learning assessment following an extensive overhaul of teaching space at the college to build a leading-edge simulation and learning center.
The renovation to create the 5,639-square-foot Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Innovation and Learning Laboratory at the Iona M. Pettengill Nursing Resource Center was completed in late December and is now in full use by University of Florida College of Nursing students for the spring semester.
“The opening of the Kirbo Innovation and Learning Lab is the culmination of years of extensive planning and development of crucial experiential learning opportunities,” said Anna M. McDaniel, PhD, RN, FAAN, College of Nursing dean and the Linda Harman Aiken Professor. “Our students and faculty began using the new lab in January. I am still in awe of how well-designed, well-equipped and well-functioning it is for both our essential learning requirements and additional, innovative features.”
The Kirbo Innovation and Learning Lab ensures demands for clinical experience are met at the College of Nursing. As the demand for clinical experience continues to grow, the role of simulation in nursing education is increasingly crucial to developing humanistic, skilled, disciplined and authoritative nursing professionals. High-fidelity simulation provides a lifelike learning experience in a safe environment, minimizing risks to patients and students.
The previous Iona M. Pettengill Nursing Resource Center was designed in a “ward” style when the Health Professions, Nursing and Pharmacy building was opened in 2003. Following an anonymous gift of $500,000 to the College of Nursing, the original center was named in honor of Iona Pettengill, a public health nurse who graduated from the college with a Master in Nursing in 1971.
In light of scientific advances and a move toward pedagogical teaching, the need became more apparent for upgraded simulation, virtual reality and a designated debriefing space.
“The new space has a large lab where skills needs can be met, but the bulk of space is allotted for simulation, with seven separate patient rooms that provide a realistic environment that mimic what students will encounter when they enter practice,” said Jane Gannon, DNP, CNM, CHSE, the college’s assistant dean of simulation-based learning. “Faculty no longer have to hide behind curtains and makeshift dividers to provide a voice to manikins. Now, faculty have a state-of-the-art control center where they can observe simulations underway and interact with students via manikins whose vocalizations, vital signs and responses can be controlled by the faculty facilitator. This enables evaluation and meaningful debriefing sessions that follow the simulations, with video playback of critical decision-making points during the simulation.”
Five patient care rooms are used for fundamental-based simulations like mobility, patient comfort, hygiene and basic-to-complex medical surgical care. The remaining two rooms are larger procedure rooms for more complex simulations, like labor and delivery, newborn assessment and carrying out life saving procedures.
The central control room houses all of the equipment that provides simulation scenarios, videotaping and other learning tools. The prep room holds all medications and supplies and provides a space for students to practice preparing medications.
An important component of nursing education is that each student receives timely, relevant assessments of their progress. In the debrief room, faculty and students will meet, either one-on-one or in small groups, to reflect on their simulation experiences and clinical performance.
The innovation studio is a multipurpose room for collaboration on interdisciplinary projects that will advance current and future health care environments, improve patient safety through the invention and testing of new products, and create synergy across the research-practice divide.
The skills lab allows ample space for students to practice health assessments and fundamental nursing techniques that are the basis and foundation for them to progress throughout their education. The open space of the room also makes it available for events and informal activities. Yuria Kusatake, a student in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, participated in a skills lab simulating injections and setting up IV medications on the first day of the spring semester. She said she feels more prepared and comfortable with these new skills when she enters the clinical setting.
“I will incorporate the skills I learned in administering injections, such as insulin, directly into my clinical practice this semester,” Kusatake said. “I can also transfer the sense of feeling like I’m in a hospital setting to my own practice wherever I go after graduation.
I think the more exposed I am to certain equipment and the overall medical environment, the more comfortable I will feel when I start practicing.” Gannon said the benefit of simulation is the ability to control the patient condition to ensure that all students are exposed to a critical clinical experience that tests their care management competence in a controlled environment.
“It is impossible to deliver and guarantee certain conditions take place in the actual clinical environment where students all have different patients and different experiences,” Gannon said. “Further, changing the patient’s condition in a controlled way provides all students with an opportunity for care plan revision, particularly in redesigning nursing interventions and formulating new outcomes and their indicators.
That requires deeper thinking than simply constructing a plan based on a disease process. Students have to redesign care for their patient, not a disease, and that is a critical reflection of personalized nursing care — a foundational concept of our curriculum.”
Realizing the Dream
With a total cost of $2.9 million for construction and state-of-the-art equipment, the Innovation and Learning Lab was made possible through lead gifts from the Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Charitable Foundation, The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation and Mark and Sally Rosser.
The Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Charitable Foundation, for which the lab is named, provided the lead gift of $1 million that funded its construction. Martha Sawyer, a trustee of the foundation, said developing quality nurses and other medical professionals is critical to the foundation’s objective of improving community health care and, thus, lifting individuals out of poverty.
“Over the last 37 years, the foundation has funded endowments that improve the quality of the UF nursing faculty and curriculum and provide scholarships to a diverse group of UF nursing students,” Sawyer said. “The Kirbo Innovation and Learning Lab is the culmination of all of these efforts. We believe it will be instrumental in ensuring UF will continue to produce excellent nursing professionals in the years to come.”
The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation funded equipment and salary for a lab assistant staff member. The DeLuca Foundation’s mission is to support programs that empower individuals to lead healthy and productive lives through education, awareness and research initiatives.
“An investment in the education of nursing students is an investment in the future of health care,” said Elisabeth DeLuca, president of The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made that clear and demonstrates the importance of having prepared nurses ready for the front lines. Using simulation in education allows nursing students to train without risk to the patient or themselves, which is essential in this era. The DeLuca
Foundation is pleased to join others supporting the future of nursing by investing in the Kirbo
Innovation and Learning Lab.” Mark and Sally Rosser, who funded equipment for the lab, agree with the importance of having prepared nurses at the bedside. Their daughter Kathryn graduated from the UF College of Nursing with a BSN degree in 2015.
The Rosser family knows first-hand how critical it is to have well-prepared nurses and physicians providing care. In high school, Kathryn spent 14 days in a pediatric intensive care unit and two months in a rehabilitation facility following a devastating accident on an all-terrain vehicle.
She is now a nurse in the same pediatric intensive care unit at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where she was treated.
Preparing for the Future
The state-of-the-art educational facility will prepare the next generation of nurses to rise to the challenges of tomorrow’s medical landscape.
“Gator Nurses are known for being well-prepared, critical thinkers,’’ McDaniel said.
“Now, students and faculty alike can take advantage of the opportunity to expand their skills and collaborate on innovative, interdisciplinary projects.”
Senior leaders at UF Health noted that the renovated facility is coming online at a critical yet opportune moment for health care services throughout the nation and the world.
“Never has the need for well-prepared nurses been more apparent than now throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said David R. Nelson, MD, senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health.
“With the Kirbo Innovation and Learning Lab, the College of Nursing is continuing to demonstrate its leadership at the forefront of education, research and health care delivery. The implications of the simulation and learning center will reverberate for generations through the delivery of superior patient care and groundbreaking discoveries of future graduates.”