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SUNY Chancellor John King visits nursing simulation lab at SUNY Plattsburgh

SUNY Chancellor John King visits the Nursing Skills Lab at SUNY Plattsburgh
Pat Bradley
SUNY Chancellor John King visits the Nursing Skills Lab at SUNY Plattsburgh

State University of New York Chancellor John King was at SUNY Plattsburgh Friday as part of his system-wide tour of campuses.

Chancellor King, who has been making the rounds at SUNY campuses in his early weeks on the job, stopped at SUNY Plattsburgh’s new Nursing Skills Lab, a simulation center to teach students practical skills on high-tech mannequins before they start working at a hospital or health care facility.

The lab opened in late January and Nursing Program Department Chair Dr. Patricia Shinn explains they have a number of high-fidelity mannequins.

“We can play through these scenarios of high-risk patients with multiple problems and the students are challenged to do the critical thinking here instead of in that very intense, intimidating environment of the hospital.”

There are several suites with different patients including an adult male and female, a pregnant mom and baby and pediatric patients. The mannequins can move, cough, blink and react to medication.

A bill has been introduced in the state Assembly that would allow simulations to account for 30 percent of required clinical hours for nursing students. Chancellor King supports the measure and is optimistic about the bill’s chance for passage.

“I co-authored op-ed with the Chancellor of the City University of New York and the head of the independent colleges and universities in support of the simulation bill. The Chair of the Higher Ed Committee, Chair (Patricia) Fahy (Democrat, 109th District – Albany), has been very, very supportive and very helpful. The bill moved through committee. We're very optimistic. It passed the Senate last year. So we're very optimistic that we could see the bill, hopefully integrated into the enacted budget. But there's tremendous momentum. The hospitals throughout the state are very supportive. The nursing community is very supportive. So we're very optimistic.”

Joining Chancellor King on the tour of the nursing simulation lab was 115th District Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, a Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill. He turned to Dr. Shinn for advice.

“We want to advocate, my colleagues and I, for this legislation obviously. We get pushback. If I had a minute to argue for this legislation what would you say is the single best argument for this legislation?”

“Would you want," replies Schinn, "the person taking care of your family member to have never been in that situation before and making those decisions for the first time, be they right decisions or wrong decisions? We can give them that critical thinking experience here. The skills aren't the issue, it's more the thinking.”

Shinn adds that simulations allow students to make and learn from deadly mistakes.

“The faculty watching them remotely can watch and then get feedback and the student can kill the patient in the lab and then repeat it and learn from their mistakes. Whereas in the hospital we’re hesitant to even assign students real high-risk patients because it’s dangerous for a novice to be the person in charge taking care of the patient. So we’re really excited to have this as experiential learning so our students will be much better prepared when they do stop in to the hospital for their clinicals.”

King said he’s seen a number of nursing simulators at SUNY campuses across the state and believes they are an important tool for nursing programs.

“I was on a campus a couple of weeks ago and they had one of the professors acting in the role of a family member. The mannequin was supposed to be her mom who was you know, near end of life. And so she was very distressed. And you could see the nursing students trying to figure out how to navigate caring for the patient, being responsive to the family member while getting the right dosing of the medication for the patient. You could see how if that was the first time you were doing it in the real world that would be very difficult. And the practice of doing it in the simulation lab could make the difference between panicking and being able to do it well.”

Chancellor King also visited SUNY Plattsburgh’s cybersecurity program and then spent time at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake.