If the simulation seemed like controlled chaos, that was by design.
The Health Sciences Facility at Southeast Community College’s Lincoln campus played host to a simulation Friday, essentially transforming into a functioning hospital.
Students rushed between an ambulance port and a surgical suite on the first floor, or between a medical lab and an intensive care unit, all in service to 12 “patients” experiencing an array of health issues.
The Interprofessional Education Day wasn’t so much about giving students another avenue to practice their individual skills, according to Renee Schnieder, a registered nurse and simulation coordinator.
Rather, the simulation was designed for students from nine different health care programs to work together across disciplines, communicate and solve problems on the fly.
“We tend to keep our little silos — nursing, lab, respiratory,” Schnieder said. “Learning about the roles and responsibilities of another department is huge.
“It’s how we work together for the patient,” she added.
The all-day event marked the first time the simulation has been held in several years.
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The coronavirus pandemic forced SCC to cancel the event in 2020, and SCC’s move into its current Health Science Facility delayed the event last year.
This year’s event was bigger than ever, however. About 170 students from SCC, as well as Union College, took part.
Inside the third-floor ICU, nurses in training at SCC and future physician assistants from Union College huddled around a manikin named “Henry” who had been hospitalized for three days with a COVID-19 infection.
During the assessment, the team called for respiratory therapy to administer a treatment, and later requested a physical therapist come to give the patient some exercise.
From behind a laptop running the simulation, Schnieder then threw the care team for a loop.
As the nurses and physical therapist sat the manikin up in bed for physical therapy, the patient suffered a cardiac event and began to code.
Students called the code and began life-saving measures: Taking turns doing chest compressions and delivering oxygen, marking time, delivering medications and preparing the crash cart.
The exercise continued for about 20 minutes, until the patient “died” shortly after 2 p.m.
That was by design, Schnieder said.
The future health care workers who took part said they valued the experience.
Eric Loos, a second-year physician assistant student at Union College, said Friday’s simulation was his first time taking charge in a group setting.
“It’s stressful,” Loos said. “We’ve done the class, but we’ve never got to practice it, especially in a group. To me, what you think it’s going to be like is not what it was like.”
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The nursing students who took part said the simulation gave them a chance to experience something that doesn’t happen that often in their rotations throughout Southeast Nebraska.
“I think it’s been a unique experience,” said Rebecca Mousel, who is studying to become a registered nurse. “There’s some disciplines where I knew they existed, but didn’t really know what they did.”
“I was nervous. We were going to be with a whole bunch of people you didn’t know at all, and I think it went smooth,” said Danielle Block. “I thought it was interesting.”
Shannon Schidler, an LPN studying at SCC in Beatrice, said the chance to do a code simulation also gave several of the students an experience they may not get in their rotation.
“In small-town Nebraska, you don’t always get to see everything,” she said, adding: “Not that you want to see this.”
Loos said he thought the group did better in their first time working together than he expected.
“It just shows where we still have room as students to grow and work on things,” he said. “I think that’s what the value of these types of experiences are.”