Educating the Educators

“I am feeling hot,” says the patient. “Do you think I have a fever?”

The nurse appears flustered. She’s trying to take the patient’s blood pressure, the cuff lines are tangled, and now the patient is talking about another symptom.

A difficult situation in any clinical environment, but this is a simulation lab at the George Washington School of Nursing (GW SON) in Ashburn, Virginia. The “nurse” is instructor Patricia Davis, DNP, director of the simulation laboratory, who is pretending to be a novice nurse completely overwhelmed by the slightest request.

Three MedStar Washington Hospital Center nursing educators sit in the control room, providing the voice for the patient and taking notes on the nurse’s performance under pressure. Watching via camera in another room: the rest of the nurse educator team, taking notes of their own on what works and what doesn’t in a simulated setting.

To provide the most up-to-date education for nurses at the Hospital Center, educators here go outside for instruction and bring their knowledge back to campus. Because the educators are developing a new simulation laboratory at the Hospital Center’s Center for Excellence in Nursing, they are spending the weekend at the GW SON to learn how to script, critique and coach nurses in the sim environment.

“It’s quite a complicated process, and it takes time to get the right scenarios,” notes Davis. Karen Batcheller, RN, one of the simulation voices, agrees. “You want to be reacting and yet you want to stickwith the script,” she says. “This is outside anything we have done in a clinical setting, so it is great for us to get the training we need.”