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Published on November 13, 2017

Behind the scenes at 4Cs’ new nurses training centerBehind the scenes at 4Cs’ new nurses training center

How is the new Center for Nursing and Allied Health at Cape Cod Community College similar to the casino capital of America?

“What we say is, it’s like Vegas,” said Marion Santos, a member of the college nursing faculty and lab coordinator for the center. “What goes on in the lab, stays in the lab, and therefore it’s not discussed outside of the group learning in the lab.”

The newly opened center uses high- to moderate-fidelity mannequins and simulated scenarios to give students a transition from textbooks to patients.

“They learn how to do what they would do in the healthcare setting,” said Santos.

“When I went to nursing school, you learned to catheterize a patient by reading the book and then you went out and did it – and you better get it right. What I like about the lab is that they can make a mistake without hurting someone, without harming a patient.”

4Cs nursing open house

That no-risk atmosphere makes students more willing to be the first to try a new procedure, like giving an injection, she said.

“It’s a safe place to learn. They can practice it here. Then when they go out into the healthcare environment, they’ve seen it before and done it before.”

Learning Space

Cape Cod Healthcare donated $1 million to Cape Cod Community College for the new nursing center to ensure a steady supply of nurses for years to come. The new center is a learning space for students taking courses to become nurses, CNAs, medical assistants, phlebotomists and EKG techs.

[RELATED: Read about the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Center for Nursing and Allied Health.]

The suite includes a quiet study area, two rooms for conducting physical exams, two rows of hospital beds and two simulation rooms.

In the exam rooms, students might learn to do a basic assessment, take blood pressure or draw blood. Part of the education involves interaction with the mannequins for hands-on training.

The moderate-fidelity mannequins are in hospital beds. They have a pulse, and students can take the mannequin’s blood pressure. They can learn to apply dressings and even catheterize them.

4Cs nursing open house

Part of the learning is going through the basics – hand washing, introducing yourself to a patient and correctly identifying the patient.

The SimMan Essential high-fidelity mannequin, who lives in a simulation rooms can speak, blink his eyes and breathe with a chest that rises and fall. His lungs deflate to simulate pneumothorax, and the students are able to hear chest and bowel sounds.

There are even child and infant high-fidelity mannequins.

The professor can pre-program a scenario for the mannequin or teach on the fly. An instructor runs a pre-programmed scenario from the National League of Nurses, including a car accident, pneumonia, a bowel obstruction and choking. A lesson can focus on either assessment.

“The students come in to the simulation room and it’s just like it’s a regular hospital setting,” said Santos. “They introduce themselves and start taking care of a patient. They get a whole scenario. It can be very simple to a full-blown emergency. We can make it as simple assessment or a full-blown emergency.”

One student will be the primary nurse and another will the secondary nurse, and another can be a family member in the room with the mannequin.

A Regular Hospital Setting

Two cameras record the sessions, so other students can watch in a conference room or the hands-on student can review her performance later in a debriefing session. An important lesson for the students who are observing the simulation is learning how to critique in a thoughtful way.

4Cs Nursing open house 1

Santos is thrilled that her students get to practice on “the newest and best equipment.” Training in the center begins during a student’s first semester.

The new multi-million-dollar training center is part of a partnership between the college and Cape Cod Healthcare. The goal is to have top-notch learning available on Cape Cod.

“As you look around the center, you’ll see how our teaching space replicates what you find in healthcare facilities,” said John Cox, president of Cape Cod Community College, at a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This is just the beginning,” said Michael Lauf, president and CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare.

“This should be the pre-eminent nursing program in southeastern Massachusetts. There’s no greater resource than education and healthcare. We must continue to be bold and innovative and creative.”