At healthcare institutions across the country, nursing orientation has traditionally been lecture-based with some hands-on activities to help new staff become more familiar with hospital equipment and demonstrate basic skills.
However, hands-on training with pediatric patients can be particularly nerve-wracking, such as starting an IV on a squirming, crying baby or changing the port on an uncooperative child – all while under the watchful eye of an equally nervous parent.
Since the summer of 2012, Akron Children’s Hospital has been using its state-of-the-art Simulation Center for Safety and Reliability for part of the nursing orientation process. The Simulation Center features high-tech mannequins capable of replicating the physiological responses nurses may experience with patients. This allows them to practice their nursing skills in a controlled environment.
To date, nearly 100 nurses have gone through orientation in the Simulation Center, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Typically, 12 nurses participate in each session.
“Current research shows simulated training promotes a safe environment, as well as helps nurses feel more comfortable,” said Michelle Weber, BSN, RN, education coordinator for General Nursing Orientation and the Float Department. “We’re able to leverage the full potential of the Simulation Center to help our nursing staff refine their skills and better serve our patients.”
In addition to skills training on specific equipment, nursing orientation also includes two scenarios nurses are likely to encounter on-the-job. A debriefing is held after each scenario, so participants can evaluate what went well and what didn’t.
“This is a time to learn from mistakes and from each other. In some cases, the debriefing can be just as valuable as experiencing the scenarios,” said Weber.
Because all new nurses who come on board go through orientation, training sessions can include experienced nurses who have never worked in pediatrics working beside recent graduates who’ve rotated through Akron Children’s while in nursing school.
“Whatever their skill level, our nurses indicate they always learn something new in the scenarios they can apply to their practice,” said Weber. “These experiences are definitely the highlight of the week.”
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