Student Learning in the CNA LabSubmitted by Debra Bachmeier, Health Careers and Mary Horstman, Health Careers

Student learning was on display recently in the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program, when the new Lab Simulation project launched. For the first time, the CNA students are using simulation as part of their classroom learning activities. The simulation supports program learning outcomes such as: 1. Demonstrate basic nursing skills while caring for patients; 2. Communicate effectively with patients, family, and staff; and 3. Establish and maintain a safe and comfortable environment.

CNA faculty will be using simulations to bridge the gap between classroom/lab and real life clinical experiences. Simulators are used, which can perform many human functions realistically in a healthcare setting, without putting actual humans in harm’s way. With limited faculty time, and lack of real residents, a simulation situation can lead to learning outcomes as good as, and according to the Harvard Center for Medical Simulation, better than, other teaching methodologies. Students now have a chance to demonstrate competent critical thinking prior to being placed in a clinical setting.

Student evaluation results show strong support for simulation as a valuable new learning tool to strengthen their skill-level performance prior to clinical. Both the hands-on student participants, and the entire class (observing through a live-stream), simultaneously experienced the activity. The class utilized a Simulation Observation Tool to measure student participant success. Afterwards, both participants and observers came together for a debriefing session, which they agree enhanced their knowledge and provided valuable feedback. The experience received overwhelmingly positive feedback, with students reporting it as very helpful and many stating that they would like to do more of it.

Special thanks to Caitrin Sobota, Lee Nolan, and the Academy for Teaching Excellence for their support of this project.