This Is Auburn

SimeduresearchNew nursing building provides emphasis on simulation education, research

Simulation research is a growing necessity at many nursing programs, including Auburn’s School of Nursing. 

The need exists because schools nationwide are reporting budget reductions, a shortage of qualified faculty, and a lack of available clinical sites, forcing educators to develop creative ways to make students proficient in nursing skills and knowledge by graduation.

“Nursing is considered a practice profession,” said Auburn Assistant Clinical Professor Sarah Watts. “If students can’t train at clinical sites because of unavailability, we have to identify other opportunities for practice to continue elsewhere.”

At Auburn, the answer is the Engaging Active Group Learning Environments in Simulation, or EAGLES, Center, a dedicated space in the School of Nursing’s new 89,000-square-foot building.

The center itself exceeds the square footage of Miller Hall, the school’s former home, and includes a skills lab and multiple simulation suites that mimic actual hospital, clinic, and community settings.

“The goal is to provide realistic situations in order to increase student confidence, decrease errors, and promote quality and safety in nursing clinical practice,” said Karol Renfroe, assistant clinical professor and nursing resource center coordinator.

In the EAGLES Center, a typical student experience begins with students receiving learning objectives, expectations of performance, and a patient-specific report in pre-brief. Students then enter the simulation suite where they assume the care of their patient(s) in either the simulated hospital, clinic, or community room. Following the scenario, students participate in a de-briefing session. Watts said research has indicated the guided reflection that occurs in de-briefing is vital to student learning.

Meghan Jones, assistant clinical professor and director of clinical simulation and skills, said it is important for students to hone their skills in an environment where mistakes can be made without compromising patient safety. The confidence they acquire from the simulated learning experience will carry over to clinical practice, she said.

The center not only allows educators the opportunity to ensure all graduates are proficient in discipline-specific knowledge and skills, and prepared for clinical practice, but it also provides the environment to conduct rigorous studies in order to add to the science of simulation.

Watts, a key player for Auburn’s simulation research efforts, was one of two people in the country selected for a 2017 research fellowship from the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning. The 15-month program was designed to develop future leaders in simulation research. 

“This innovative method to prepare students is an integral part of the future of nursing education and the talented faculty at Auburn are excited to advance the profession through simulation research,” she said.