Your Health: New grant enriches CNCC nursing program
June 7, 2014
Craig — Practice makes perfect, and with more and more opportunities available in their training, the students of Colorado Northwestern Community College soon will be more prepared than ever to join the medical field.
CNCC recently received a grant from the organization Caring for Colorado to contribute to the teaching materials of its nursing program. The $78,661 in funding will go toward the enhancement of its classroom simulation spaces.
The facilities, already part of CNCC's program, enable those learning the profession to practice a number of procedures on state-of-the-art mannequins. These aren't the types of items found in a department store — the technology involved in training provides authentic simulations through these fake patients, allowing students to hone their reactions to different levels of medical conditions they might see on the job, whether it involves changing an IV tube or something more complicated such as a heart attack or stroke.
What's more, the software can also be configured so mannequin patients reflect the kinds of conditions common to areas where nursing graduates may find employment, such as The Memorial Hospital, said Kelly Martin-Puleo, director for the nursing program.
"We ask them what their top 10 admissions are, and we make sure those are the kinds of diagnoses our students know and understand," she said.
Among the frequent ailments seen by patients in Northwest Colorado are pneumonia, chest pains and symptoms of chronic diseases such as diabetes.
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Students gain work experience outside the area, as well, meaning they need to be kept on their toes for a variety of issues. The simulations also give them early exposure to more complex treatments that they likely wouldn't be able to attempt.
Rarely would a nurse in training on the floor of a hospital be given an assignment such as a patient with a myocardial infarction, Martin-Puleo said.
The new grant money from Caring for Colorado will go into effect in the fall semester and will allow instructors to record their students on video as they undergo simulations. Following them step by step, the instructors will be able to view each individual procedure and help their pupils determine where they can improve. Fellow students also will be able to watch in real time as they practice in the simulation labs.
With these new features, Martin-Puleo said she thinks it will keep CNCC a strong part of medical education within the state. However, she added that nursing is about more than just mastering equipment and techniques.
"Patient-focused care is the foundation of nursing, and that's why we're the most trusted profession and the most influential in health care," she said. "Nursing has always been that way."
Those currently enrolled in the school's nursing aide program quickly are introduced to the curriculum's concept of keeping patients' level of ease at their highest.
"We've already learned that the resident is the most important person on the care team, so we always need to keep that in mind," student Monica Martin said.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.