Fairfield University's School of Nursing awarded $100,000 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) to assist state-of-the-art Women's Health Simulation Expansion Project


Fairfield University's School of Nursing was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) to support a new state-of-the-art simulation laboratory for educating students about women's health, including labor and delivery methods, emergency obstetrical situations, and infant emergencies.

The grant will be used to fund the School's Women's Health Simulation Expansion Project. It is forwarding the mission of the School of Nursing to educate students in a risk-free, hands-on, cutting edge teaching environment. The courses that will be taught through the Project focus specifically on women, infant health and pediatrics, but components of wellness, adult health, medical-surgical, and mental health will be integrated throughout the courses.

According to CHEFA, Fairfield University was one of only ten non-profits awarded a grant from a highly competitive field of 40 applications. About $835,900 in grants were awarded.

Suzanne H. Campbell, Ph. D., associate professor of nursing, said, "The Women's Health Simulation Expansion Project will allow undergraduate and graduate students to practice skills prior to entering the clinical area. The ability to critically think as they make assessments in a safe simulated environment in areas such as pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the care of the premature infant will allow every student this necessary experience."

Teaching tools, including 'SimBaby' and 'Vital Sim Anne,' will be purchased with the help of this grant. 'SimBaby' will allow students to practice taking vital signs and differentiate normal from abnormal situations in infants, such as intracranial bleeds and dehydration, for example. 'Vital Sim Anne' has interchangeable parts, for the simulation of pelvic and breast exams (including mastectomy care). In addition, birth simulators and other equipment will allow for the education of labor and delivery care, including obstetric emergencies such as a prolapsed cord or shoulder dystocia.

A birthing bed, infant warmer, and infant isolate will further enhance the real feel of a hospital, and familiarize students with the equipment that they will use in clinical experiences in family birth units. Simulations also allow faculty to give specific feedback to students so that they can improve their skills and confidence. While real obstetric emergencies may require students to take a 'backseat' in caring for the patient, simulations allow the opportunity for them to be "in the driver's seat," making the critical decisions and delegating thus enhancing their learning and understanding of emergency situations.

Richard D. Gray, Executive Director of the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA), said, "CHEFA has a history of funding nursing programs, and this grant continues our support for simulation centers that are transforming nursing education in Connecticut. Patients will benefit from nursing students who have been provided with the opportunity to practice and master skills by responding to realistic complex medical situations in a state-of-the-art setting."

The lab for the Women's Health project will be located in the Fairfield University School of Nursing Robin Kanarek Learning Resource Center, located in the School of Nursing. Its purpose is to enhance the education of Fairfield's nursing students and to make their educational experiences both interactive and exciting. State-of-the-art simulation equipment, a medication and EKG machine, intravenous pumps, laptops, operating room equipment - in short, the equipment needed to make clinical spaces as authentic as possible - are on hand. Simulation centers promote learning experiences that improve the quality of care provided overall to patients, and enable students to perform at higher levels when working with patients.

Dr. Campbell, who is project director of the Learning Resource Center, said, "The most exciting part for us as we continue to work together with our colleagues is the passion and purpose we are bringing to our teaching and observing the learning and excitement in our students. We hope that this will lead to graduates who are highly competent professionals with a thirst for life-long learning."

More information on CHEFA can be found at www.chefa.com.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 26, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 217