Healthy Futures

Kim Shields, 31, of Ypsilanti is enrolled in the Nursing program at Washtenaw Community College. “I come from a family of nurses,” Shields said. “I knew having the right schooling was important, so I did my research and it became very clear that WCC was where I needed to go.” Shields is on track to graduate with her associate degree in 2018. She plans on transferring to the University of Michigan to complete her Bachelor’s of Nursing.

New simulation lab aids nursing students in job preparedness

Knowing the correct medical protocols to follow is critical when a patient goes into cardiac arrest. Responding to such a high-stress, life-threatening emergency is essential. In today’s fast-paced and rapidly evolving health care industry, where do the next generation of nurses learn to think on their feet in a health care emergency?

More students are finding the answer in real-life simulation labs, like the one being built at Washtenaw Community College.

WCC’s Nursing Program is pairing over 40 years of program teaching experience with new state-of the-art simulation labs to bring the very best in health care education to Washtenaw County.

“Simulation is becoming more popular in all health care fields,” said Valerie Greaves, Dean of Health Sciences at WCC. “In exposing students to these labs, we can put them through more patient scenarios than they would typically experience in their clinical rotations.”

Simulation labs enable students to act out medical scenarios to learn how to problem-solve in real time and determine the most effective solution. It’s a great way to get a head start on hands-on clinical learning while boosting confidence and preparing nursing students for real-world situations.

The new simulation lab at WCC will feature two actual patient rooms—instead of a typical simulation lab with multiple beds in the room. The rooms will have everything that you would expect to find: beds, sinks, supplies, and carts that are stocked and ready to go. The construction of a nurses’ station will add more realism to what a student will experience in a real hospital.

“The lab becomes a safe place where students can make errors and learn before they move to clinical rotations,” said Greaves. “Pairing the simulation lab with their on-site clinical experience is the best of both worlds.”

Simulation sessions are scripted by WCC faculty and the simulators are programmed to exhibit specific symptoms and to respond to the actions of the students. This includes cardiac disease/cardiac arrest, diabetes, respiratory issues, injuries and illnesses. In many cases, students from the College’s Performing Arts department are brought in as mock patients and trained on how to portray a disease.

“We are currently working towards more collaboration amongst all of our health programs, which will better prepare our students for work in the real-world,” said Greaves.
The Surgical Technology program already has a new simulation lab that mimics a two-room operating room and scrub-in station.

It’s a winning combination that Greaves says provides students with an experience that is hard to find anywhere else. “We have received excellent reviews from students on their simulation exercises. They gain confidence and feel ready to begin their employment as a Registered Nurse or to pursue their bachelor’s degree.”

WCC has multiple transfer agreements in place with four-year universities and colleges.

“It’s a very easy transition for students going into a BSN program,” said Greaves. “The amount of hands- on experience our students get at WCC is amazing. They are more than ready when they transfer or enter the workforce.”

The Nursing Program at WCC prepares students for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEXRN). Credit earned in the nursing program can transfer to a BSN completion program. Learning opportunities are in the classroom, simulation lab, clinical setting and community.


The amount of hands-on experience our students get at WCC is amazing. They are more than ready when they transfer or enter the workforce.”
– Valerie Greaves, Dean of Health Sciences

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