Open house at Shenandoah University will highlight health care, virtual reality, theater

shenandoah universityIn celebration of international Healthcare Simulation Week Sept. 17-21, Shenandoah University will hold an open house to showcase how it is using virtual reality, simulation labs and Shenandoah Conservatory theater students to prepare health professions students to work as members of interprofessional teams.

Healthcare Simulation Week celebrates and advocates for healthcare simulation in education and research and raises awareness about how simulation is leading to safer and better patient care.

“Simulation allows students to think through the many illnesses a patient has and decide what the best action is to take for the patient in a safe place,” said Assistant Professor of Nursing Therese Collins, BSN, MS. “If the students’ decisions are not the best ones, there is no harm done to a patient and the instructor can use the event as a chance to teach the students about why it was not the appropriate intervention for the patient. If the students make the right choices, the instructor can use the event as a way to validate this.”

An open house will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Health and Life Sciences Building on campus. It is open to healthcare professionals and the general public.

The school’s four simulation rooms will be open, and visitors can view how students work with mannequins, virtual reality and theater students, who role-play as real-life “patients,” to create realistic health care situations. Shenandoah Conservatory actors are prepped to portray certain illnesses and conditions that provide a level of realism to each interaction. A simulation room camera will show how simulation is used for teaching.

The new Shenandoah Center for Immersive Learning, or SCIL, which helps the health professions by developing virtual reality scenarios in the medical field, will be open from 4 to 5 p.m. during the open house in the basement of the Health & Life Sciences Building. Those interested can see what the department has created to enhance the student experience.

The simulation rooms are used extensively by the university’s health professions programs. One example is the physician assistant program, which tests to evaluate student readiness for both clinical experiences with real patients and for graduation. The program uses eight unique Objective Structured Clinical Exam stations to assess students’ knowledge, skills and professionalism through the use of standardized patients, mannequins and other devices.

The labs are also used to teach interprofessional learning. This happens when students across academic disciplines — such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and physician assistant studies — interact in order to treat a patient at every level of need. This gives students the opportunity to learn as a member of the health care team and see first-hand how their roles work together, much like in real practice.

For more information about the open house, contact Assistant Professor of Nursing Therese Collins at tcollins4@su.edu. Collins is also the director of the Clinical Simulation Center in the university’s Health & Life Sciences Building.

The Health & Life Sciences Building is home to programs in athletic training, nursing and respiratory care as well as undergraduate pre-health programs such as biology and chemistry.

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