Kent Nursing Lab Provides ‘Real Feel’ Experience

CHAMPION TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Chelsey Palmer, a junior nursing major at Kent State University at Trumbull, wanted to have a more active role in patient health care after working in the field on and off for the past 10 years.

Palmer worked at local hospitals as a unit clerk and in patient transport, she said, but she found herself wanting to jump into the field more and realized it was time for her to go to school to become a nurse.

“The clinical experience that’s been provided through Kent State Trumbull has been amazing,” Palmer said. “It gives us the opportunity to see whether or not this is what we want to do.”

With experience of working in hospitals outside of school, Palmer said the new $1.2 million nursing laboratory at Kent State Trumbull gives her the “real feel” of being in a hospital room. Palmer attended the ribbon cutting Monday for the lab, which is designed to provide students with realistic, life-like scenarios using mannequins so students can identify their strengths and weaknesses, she said.

“It’s important for us to find things that we need to fine-tune before we’re in the real world,” Palmer said. “The fact that the mannequins are interactive with the students is a valuable experience.”

Chelsey Palmer is finishing her first semester of her junior year at Kent State Trumbull.

Nursing students represent one of the largest majors at Kent State Trumbull, said Daniel Palmer, interim dean and chief administrative officer. The new lab will help train the next generation of health-care providers in the community, he said.

“Our nursing program has received tremendous community support,” Palmer said. “We can now offer a facility to our nursing staff and students that matches their dedication and talents.”

Before the nursing lab was opened, students used an older classroom with beds set up, said Kathleen Dwinnells, nursing coordinator at the Champion Township campus. The classroom didn’t emulate a hospital, so it was difficult for students to envision what a real, clinic unit would look like, she said.

“The transition to a real clinical unit in a hospital will be much easier for them because we’ve got the latest technology and we’ve got these rooms set up just like a clinical unit,” Dwinnells said.

Construction started on the lab in May and students were able to start using the lab two weeks prior to the ribbon cutting, Dwinnells said. Kent State Trumbull nursing students are admitted to the nursing sequence as sophomores, so they would use the lab primarily as sophomores, but every level uses it, she said.

Simulation mannequins are adult and child-sized, and have simulation arms that allow students to practice intravenous, or IV, procedures, Dwinnells said. Mannequins also simulate human reactions and symptoms such as sneezing and coughing.

The new nursing laboratory at Kent State Trumbull simulates a real-life clinical setting with lifelike mannequins.

In addition, there are three electronic medical carts available to students so they can get used to giving medications electronically, Dwinnells said. Students can also suction if they have to with compressed air that acts as oxygen, she said.

“Kent State Trumbull provides a great number of students and health-care workers for our community,” said Barbara Broome, dean of the College of Nursing. “Those individuals are taking care of your families, your friends, your relatives and they’re doing an exceptional job of it.”

Kent State Trumbull offers a four-year Bachelor of Science in nursing, which is the same program the main campus in Kent offers, Dwinnells said. Up to 36 nursing students are enrolled every year at Kent State Trumbull, and there are between 90 to 100 students currently enrolled in the program, she said.

“Most of them graduate and get jobs in this area,” Dwinnells said. “We do have quite a few nontraditional students, so my demographic shows that 80% of our students work outside the home.”

As of 2018, Kent State Trumbull had a 100% board pass rate. According to Aligning Opportunities in Northeast Ohio, the total demand for careers in health care is 29,775 as of 2018, with registered nurses being first out of the top five occupations. A challenge faced today is that most nurses are aging, Dwinnells said.

“You’ve got the majority of nurses around the age of 60, so the demand is high because the present population of nurses is aging,” she said. “It’s nice that most of our students stay in this area because they’re invested in here. They have families here.”

More males are entering the nursing profession as well, Dwinnells said. For the last two years, nursing classes have been 10% male, she said. Some students go on for degrees and some travel, she said.

“We had a student that went to Dubai,” Dwinnells said. “We had a student that was a cruise ship nurse, so one of the things they’ve learned here is that nursing isn’t always just hospital. A lot of our nurses have actually branched out and have done really good things.”

Pictured above: Attending the ribbon cutting were Jasmine Hickey, junior nursing major; Barbara Broome, dean of nursing; Daniel Palmer, interim dean and chief administrative officer; Kathleen Dwinnells, nursing coordinator; and Kathy Cook, president of the St. Joseph Warren Hospital.

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