Nursing Education Center Dedicated

New facility brings latest technology to art of caring

by Jennifer A. Cline, writer/magazine editor.

Nursing student Rachelle N. Stevens learns about labor and delivery with SimMom, a programmable simulation manikin that gives birth to Birthing Baby. Photo by Cindy Davis Meixel

Hands-on learning in the Breuder Advanced Technology and Health Sciences Center took another step forward with the expansion of the college’s Nursing Program.

The newly dedicated Nursing Education Center encapsulates the college’s most distinct characteristics: hands-on learning, personal attention, and a readiness to adapt so that students master the skills most in demand by employers. In the modern health care field, nursing professionals use advanced education and technology to meet the demands of complex patient-care needs.

For years, nursing education took place on the second floor of the Advanced Technology and Health Sciences Center, where it shared the floor’s west wing with four other academic programs in the college’s School of Health Sciences.

With a shift down the stairs, the new Nursing Education Center occupies the entire first floor of the building’s west wing. There, 10 dedicated classrooms and seven learning labs accommodate more than 350 students.

Practical nursing students, from left, Jeannie A. Colley, Ammon J. Wagner and Dawin J. Melendez calculate a dosage during a simulation with static manikins. Photo by Jennifer A. Cline

The expansion has allowed the college to accept more students into its nursing majors and to make room for additional hands-on experiences.

“The technology resources and highly qualified faculty we have to support student achievement parallel that of programs in larger cities like Philadelphia,” said Sandra L. Richmond, director of nursing.

“Penn College offers the same … equipment for students to practice on as I see now at work.”

Among the technology available for student learning are five high-fidelity manikins, also called “patient simulators,” which are programmable to imitate real health conditions, and 35 static manikins. A video and audio recording system allows nursing educators to run patient simulations and observe students from a remote location.

“Transitioning into the role of nurse and no longer student in and of itself is a huge learning curve,” said Dallas J. Riley, a December 2015 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Now employed in the adult intensive care unit at Geisinger, she was among alumni who spoke at the dedication. “I thought that would be compounded when I joined the ranks of nurses at Geisinger, a world-renowned health care organization, in the ICU nonetheless. As it turns out, Penn College offers the same or similar equipment for students to practice on as I see now at work and as I saw in clinicals. Every opportunity is afforded students at this school to learn and master skills before practicing on real patients.”

Cutting the “ribbon” (gauze held by IV poles) are, from left, Dottie M. Mathers, associate professor of medical-surgical nursing; Sandra L. Richmond, director of nursing; Edward A. Henninger, dean of health sciences; President Davie Jane Gilmour; and student Monica A. Flexer, president of the Penn College Student Nurses Association. Photo by Tia G. La

Cutting the “ribbon” (gauze held by IV poles) are, from left, Dottie M. Mathers, associate professor of medical-surgical nursing; Sandra L. Richmond, director of nursing; Edward A. Henninger, dean of health sciences; President Davie Jane Gilmour; and student Monica A. Flexer, president of the Penn College Student Nurses Association. Photo by Tia G. La

In compliance with the standards of the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, all of the Penn College Nursing Program’s full-time faculty hold master’s degrees, and more than 25 percent of the faculty in its bachelor-degree majors hold doctorates.

Penn College offers four nursing degrees: an associate degree in health arts: practical nursing emphasis; an associate degree in nursing; a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing; and an online bachelor-degree completion major for those who already hold registered nurse licensure.

“I can’t tell you the number of times nurses and other team members have told me how much they love Penn College grads,” Riley said. “They say we are some of the best-prepared graduate nurses. Those of you who help us get there should be very proud. It all started here.”

Nursing students Alexa A. Miller, left, and Christina M. Mossman check the heart rate of SimMan 3G. The Nursing Education Center’s host of high-fidelity manikins can be programmed to imitate real health conditions, including heart and lung sounds and dilating pupils. Photo by Lary D. Kauffman

Nursing students Alexa A. Miller, left, and Christina M. Mossman check the heart rate of SimMan 3G. The Nursing Education Center’s host of high-fidelity manikins can be programmed to imitate real health conditions, including heart and lung sounds and dilating pupils. Photo by Lary D. Kauffman