Loyola’s new College of Nursing and Health opens high-tech lab

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Camille Barnett, Uptown Messenger file photo

Loyola University

The Loyola University New Orleans College of Nursing and Health will open a state-of-the-art Nursing Simulation Laboratory in partnership with Ochsner Health on Saturday (Oct 1).

The new $1.9 million Loyola Ochsner Nursing Simulation Lab – the “Sim Lab” – on Loyola’s campus allows immersive, hands-on learning opportunities in simulated inpatient and outpatient settings, as students prepare for careers in hospitals, labor and delivery rooms, emergency rooms and other clinical settings.

Loyola’s new Sim Lab is equipped with high-fidelity mannequins capable of mimicking medical conditions that will improve or deteriorate based on the intervention provided by the nursing student. These lifelike mannequins are highly complex and responsive, designed to react like humans.

“Being able to practice basic nursing skills on high-tech mannequins in a simulated environment is an invaluable opportunity we are thrilled to offer our students, and we are so grateful to everyone who helped to make the Sim Lab possible,” said Dr. Cherie Burke, director of the School of Nursing, in a press release.

The new lab was funded through donations from the William Randolph Hearst Foundations, the Selley Foundation, the Edward G. Schlieder Educational Foundation, and the Alden and Margaret Laborde Foundation.

The experiential learning space will be used to educate students in Loyola and Ochsner’s joint Bachelor of Science in Nursing program for undergraduate students and Loyola’s new accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, slated to begin in January 2023. The ABSN program is designed for career changers who have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field other than nursing. Loyola graduate students of various specialties will also be using the Sim Lab.

“Whether students are practicing simpler tasks such as taking blood pressures or more advanced nursing practice skills like delivering a baby, these hands-on experiences and opportunities allow the instructor to stop in the moment and provide detailed guidance and feedback,” Burke said. “They also allow the student the opportunity to ask questions and repeat skills over and over again before working in a real health care environment.”

The Loyola-Ochsner nursing partnership, announced in the fall of 2020, was forged in response to the global pandemic and regional and national nursing shortages. Loyola’s first cohort of nearly 50 first-year students and 12 second-year students started classes in August 2021 and will graduate in 2025 and 2024, respectively.

The students will join the health care workforce at a critical time. The U.S. Bureau of Labor projects more than 1.1 million new nurses will be needed by 2030.

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