VSU addressing nursing shortage with expanded simulation learning center

VSU is also addressing the shortage by implementing better resources for the students to train. Which hopefully helps with nursing retention.
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 5:54 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Experts agree, there’s a healthcare crisis in the United States. Nurses are getting burned out, and patients are dealing with long wait times. But Valdosta State University (VSU) is getting some help with South Georgia’s critical shortage of nurses.

VSU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences has received a $440,000 grant that will allow them to train and graduate more nursing students. It will also address its on-campus simulation center by purchasing new state-of-the-art, lifelike medical manikins.

“Simulation is becoming more and more valuable because we have limited spaces where we can put students. So, we can actually have a more robust clinical experience in the simulation lab than sometimes they’ll even get in the hospital with real people,” Dr. Michele Blankenship, director of the simulation lab and associate professor at VSU, said.

The grant was given to VSU to help ensure South Georgians have access to high-quality healthcare, especially those in rural underserved areas.

“I think simulation is really important. It allows us as nursing students to come in and really think about what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it. For the betterment of their patient before we go into clinical in the hospitals and actually practice that on a real person,” Blaze Beasley, a graduating nursing student at VSU, said.

The new manikin simulators mimic human anatomy, physiology and realistic patient environments.

“We can create scenarios that don’t happen on a daily basis in the clinical setting. And we can do it at no loss. So, if that manikin dies, we can turn it right back on. Otherwise, if we did it in a real setting, there’s more stress associated with it, and less opportunity to learn. They’ll provide a better clinical experience, in a controlled environment outside of the clinical setting,” Samuel Scruggs, a graduating nursing student at VSU, said.

Valdosta State says this funding supports its ongoing efforts to recruit, admit, retain and graduate nursing students into the real world.

“This grant was just God-sent. We have 16 total manikins, and 11 of those are now outdated,” Blankenship said. “These will help increase our realism in simulation. So, if they’re learning about cardiac arrest in class, in simulation that’s what we’re doing.”

Research shows that Georgia is expected to have the second-highest estimated nursing shortage in the nation by 2035.

As of 2022, around 43% of the state’s total nursing workforce is over age 50. So, VSU says it’s important to get as many students trained and graduated into that career field.

“Nursing is a widely talked about career because we are very short-staffed. With the grant that VSU nursing school will be receiving, we’ll be able to take in more nursing students and help fill that gap of nursing shortages,” Beasley said. “Newer manikins with different skin tones. So, we’ll be able to see different types of things on skin tones like bruising and lacerations and they show up on darker and lighter skin tones. It will be a more realistic simulation for nursing students to practice.”