Grant Enhances USC Aiken's Nursing Curriculum, Fosters Relationship with Aiken Regional Medical Centers

Aiken, SC (02/01/2018) — Fortune 500's Johnson & Johnson awarded the University of South Carolina Aiken a $25,000 grant to enhance the instruction in the School of Nursing's simulation labs and help strengthen the university's relationship with Aiken Regional Medical Centers (ARMC).

The funds from this grant would serve to initiate this project by providing the necessary training, certification and completion of equipment needs.

As the university's SON prepares graduates with nursing knowledge and professional competencies, it must have strong ties with community partners who provide students with necessary clinical opportunities. While ARMC provides many outlets for practical application in real-world scenarios, the opportunities are still limited in this area.

To compensate, the School of Nursing has several simulation labs that help prepare students for healthcare scenarios they will encounter.

"There is strong competition for usable sites from programs in both South Carolina and Georgia," said Dr. Thayer McGahee, dean.

"To facilitate an enrollment increase, USC Aiken School of Nursing has developed a simulation program, which has enjoyed rapid expansion due to the strong support of university administration, community partners, and generous donors."

Currently, the university has two high-fidelity labs: a women and children's health simulation lab and an adult health lab. Students also use a skills lab for practice of psychomotor skills on manikins and task trainers, and a health assessment lab for practice of physical assessment skills.

According to a landmark study conducted by the National League for Nursing and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, as much as 50 percent of clinical time can be replaced with high-fidelity simulation with no effect on national board - or NCLEX-RN - scores, faculty assessments, or other standardized test scores such as ATI.

"As we have grown our simulation program, we have become aware of the potential to increase the amount of simulation experience for students which would allow us to strategically grow the numbers of students admitted to the generic BSN program without a negative impact on our clinical partners or our student outcomes," McGahee said.

"In addition, there is strong potential to foster a stronger relationship with Aiken Regional Medical Centers in which we can offer team training for their interprofessional staff and enhanced experiences for their nurse residents."

Johnson & Johnson's $25,000 grant will help accomplish both of these goals.

With the help of this corporate contribution, the SON will work to increase its enrollment capacity. This could be accomplished by increasing the amount of simulation for students. As part of the beginning fundamentals course, faculty could blend high-fidelity simulation with skills training. Additionally, high-fidelity simulation could be introduced in psychiatric nursing and community nursing and increased in the two medical-surgical courses, the women's health course, and the child health course.

The SON's second goal, made possible by this grant, is to strengthen its longstanding relationship with ARMC. The university will provide ARMC the opportunity to use simulation with their newly developed residency program for recent graduates, for continuing education for nursing staff to increase critical thinking, and for team training to enhance interprofessional collaboration.

"Simulation has been found to be an effective tool for clinical judgment and fostering interprofessional training," McGahee said.

"By increasing the effectiveness of the nurse residency program and enhancing team training, it is believed that this simulation program would be effective in increasing retention of the nursing staff at this hospital as well as improving team performance."

She believes that together, this collaborative project funded by Johnson & Johnson would serve to increase the number of BSN graduates in South Carolina; decrease the turnover of new RN hires; and increase the retention of nurses in South Carolina.

To accomplish these goals, additional training and certification is necessary for faculty and hospital staff. Certification in simulation is recommended by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare in order to ensure that national standards have been met and faculty utilizing this mode of instruction have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to deliver quality healthcare simulation activities

The grant will pay for the faculty training needed to increase simulation use in the School of Nursing and in the hospital. Specifically, Kay Lawrence, the SON's simulation director; an additional full-time faculty member; a part-time faculty member; and an educator at ARMC will attend a multiday certificate program in simulation and then seek certification through SSH.

This plan is in keeping with Johnson & Johnson's approach to healthcare.

"We embrace innovation, bringing ideas, products and services to life to advance the health and well-being of people around the world. We believe in collaboration, and that has led to breakthrough after breakthrough, from medical miracles that have changed lives, to the simple consumer products that make every day a little better," the Johnson & Johnson website states.

Additionally, some of the grant will be used to augment equipment in the university's simulation spaces, which will increase the flexibility and effectiveness of lab usage. A fully stocked pediatric code cart and a refill pack for the adult code cart are both needed. Bar code scanners and additional computers are also needed to simulate medication administration.

"Once faculty and hospital staff are certified in simulation instruction, more significant utilization of the simulation labs could take place, and the educational partnership between the School of Nursing and Aiken Region Medical Centers can increase," said McGahee.

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