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New simulation center to help fill medical needs in community

News Release Dec 8, 2023

Students confer in the Simulation Center at IUSB Nursing and radiography students at Indiana University South Bend will soon have state-of-the-art training facilities. The university is constructing a new Simulation Center in the former Parkside Hall. When it’s open for classes in the fall of 2024, the Dwyer Healthcare Simulation Center will provide more space and new technology for students.

“Right now, we have only one simulation laboratory. In the new space we are going to have four simulation rooms that will be controlled from a central location,” said Dr. Jesús García-Martínez, Dean of the Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences. “For radiography students, we are going to have an energized lab that we do not have now. Students will get more hands-on experience and they will be ready to join the workforce as soon as they graduate.”

That’s good news for the local medical community. Indiana currently has 60,000 unfilled RN positions. It is estimated that an additional 5,000 positions will be created by the demand for healthcare by 2030. Ninety percent of IU South Bend graduates stay to work in the Michiana area.

In nursing and radiography education programs, students must complete many hands-on lab and practical courses. The simulation center allows them to gain experience by applying their learned skills under the supervision of professional faculty in a safe environment that can’t harm patients.

“Right now, we can only set up one simulation at a time for observation. When we switch students, we can’t change that patient dramatically because we only have one space,” said Barbara White, assistant dean in the Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences. “Next fall, we’ll be able to set up a patient in one room and do that simulation. Then we can go to another room and do something completely different. We can take the same concept and flip it into a new situation and that’s what nurses need to learn how to do.”

In the energized labs, radiography students will be able to take actual X-rays to better understand positioning and safety concepts. Learning those skills is critical to reducing patient radiation doses when the students work on patients in the community.

“Health education is moving rapidly. This new facility will help train our students with the latest technology that the hospitals and clinics are using,” said IU South Bend Chancellor Susan Elrod. “We want to mimic what the hospitals have so our students will be better prepared. That is going to elevate the reputation of IU South Bend.”

Assistant Clinical Professor Taryn Liechty said nurses make hundreds of decisions throughout their clinical day. “We want our students to practice making those decisions prior to graduation. Our medical partners are seeking graduates who can be good clinical decision makers. They want graduates who have clinical judgment and that’s what simulation helps us do,” she said.

“The new facility will help us bring the students to a higher level by the time they enter the hospital. That’s going to help the hospital have a more functioning nurse at an earlier time. It’s going to mean patients get better care,” White said.

Liechty said simulations provide meaningful ways for students to practice concepts they read about in textbooks by coupling it with hands-on learning.

“They get to save lives before they are put in a life and death situation. It’s an environment to practice more high-stakes scenarios,” she said. “Our students will be able to do more simulations in a more realistic environment, which will only add to their clinical judgment skills.”

The Vera Z. Dwyer Charitable Trust, local READI funds and the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County have raised a majority of the $10 million needed to renovate Parkside Hall into the New Dwyer Healthcare Simulation Center. About $560,000 is still needed to furnish the labs with needed state-of-the-art equipment. You can get more information about the Simulation Center and donate at go.iu.edu/sim-center.

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