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MSU Profiles

Simulation strengthens nursing program

From birth to death, and many times in-between, nurses impact nearly every life. Educating highly skilled, compassionate nurses has become more complex over the years, but Minot State University and its supporters continue to ensure the nursing program remains robust and current.

"The health care delivery system has become extremely complex," said Niki Roed, MSU Department of Nursing chair. "Communication and coordination of care among providers, specialties and disciplines, evidence-based practice standards and the requirements of governing agencies, such as Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies, make health care difficult to navigate for nearly all patients and their families. It is even more difficult to teach this complexity in the classroom."

In 1970, the MSU Department of Nursing was established, and the learning process involved lecturing, textbooks and faculty-led clinical experiences. Fast forward to 2017 and dramatic changes have been made in how nurses are educated. It is difficult to find clinical agencies willing to collaborate with nursing programs due to their own challenges associated with the complexity of health care. Patients are sicker, turnover is higher and resources are lacking. Finding appropriately trained personnel and patients willing to authorize nursing students to work with them can also be a challenge.

The solution? Simulation. The implementation of high-fidelity simulation across the entire nursing curriculum provides students a similar experience and enables them to practice and make mistakes in a safe environment. Instructors can also track what information the students receive and what the additional focus needs to include.

"Simulation is a wonderful tool," Roed said. "And while it certainly enhances our clinical experiences, it does not replace them. Simulation and actual real-life experience go hand in hand."

Simulation became a key part of nursing education in the late 2000s, but the equipment and supplies are expensive. Because of donor support, the MSU nursing program has always provided not only the most current technology in high-fidelity simulation experiences, but support for supplies and equipment to prepare students for the clinical setting and workplace. These items include medication carts with scanning options, IV pumps and ventriloscopes for listening to heart and lung sounds.

Fortunately, MSU also has highly qualified faculty with a wide range of practice experience that are excellent in incorporating evidence-based practice across the lifespan.

"Jim (Jensen) and I invested in MSU's nursing program because it is a very good program and much needed," Karen Jensen said. "Jim chaired the Trinity Hospital board of directors for 12 years and witnessed firsthand the need for nurses and advocated for this program."

The program continues to thrive and graduate highly qualified nurses to provide safe, quality care. Since its inception, donors have not only funded the much-needed supplies and equipment, but also numerous nursing scholarships. Due to the rigor of academics and clinical requirements, nursing students often find it difficult to work while taking classes. Scholarships provide many with financial assistance so they can focus on their nursing education.

Recently, Trinity Health, Minot State University and Dakota College at Bottineau embarked on a five-year collaboration to meet the region's health care needs and create additional opportunities for students to receive a nursing education in the community. Trinity Health committed $1.25 million to MSU's Department of Nursing and $500,000 to DCB's nursing programs over the next five years. The initiative, Nursing for the Future, will ensure both institutions continue to admit, prepare and graduate high-quality nurses.

"Our organizations share a vision of attracting talented people into the nursing profession so we can continue to support our patients and region for years to come," said Karen Zimmerman, registered nurse and Trinity Health vice president and chief nursing officer. "This partnership demonstrates what we can do together when faced with challenges in an ever-changing, but very exciting industry."

Although the number of nurses employed in North Dakota increased over the past years, a severe shortage continues. This is because nurses' roles expanded over the years. No longer working only at the bedside, nurses take active roles in different venues, including quality, revenue and case management, leadership, telemedicine, hospice, public and community health and much more.

"People are living longer with more complex health issues," said Roed. "Nurses will continue to play a huge role in managing the quality of life for these individuals at the bedside, in nursing leadership, as advanced practice nurses, or in nursing education."

Thus, the need for nurses continues to grow and the MSU nursing programs must grow with it. The program admits students every semester and always has more applicants than available positions. In order to admit additional students, the space needs to expand for faculty and clinical site options.

"To maintain a quality program, we need highly qualified faculty and equipment and supplies for teaching and preparing students for the clinical setting," Roed said. "We are extremely grateful for all of our donors over the years and to those who will help us to maintain and continue to grow our program in the future."