A Putting BC To Work feature by Matt Lee and Janet Brown
It’s not much of a secret in British Columbia; as a large number of the province’s population ages towards retirement, the demand for everything from doctors to nurses will reach peak levels in the province.
So how is education today paving the way for the health care professionals of tomorrow?
At BCIT, the next wave of nurses train for the workforce.
That’s where Rob Kruger comes in.
He heads up simulation and innovation in specialty nursing and critical care at BCIT.
Kruger’s job is to find ways to enhance the student learning experience.
“Recently, the critical care program has moved from a completely paper-based curriculum to a fully digitally published curriculum using iPads. So what we’ve done with the iPads is we haven’t just moved the text into an iPad, we’ve moved in to a very interactive digital media that has video, has custom animations, it has interactivities that really take.”
“You wouldn’t really even call it a book anymore, some of the stuff we’ve created is app-based and the students learn from working within the iPad in these text apps that we have developed.
How is it affecting student’s learning?
“We’re not sure if they learn quicker, but their marks have been quite a bit better. Some of the anecdotal and other research shows their marks have improved by one standard deviation when they’ve used the iPads.”
How new and evolving technology is training the nurses of tomorrow
The driving force behind preparing students for real-life scenarios of life and death in critical care nursing is simulation.
Imagine being in a room that smells, sounds and looks like a real hospital room. On a bed is a patient – in this case, a mannequin who’s pretty close to the real thing.
Kruger says this is where the mistakes are made and where the learning really happens.
“So what we have here is our mid-fidelity dolls; it’s called a METI-MAN and it’s designed off a Latino male Marine from the U.S., so the military is big into simulation and they’ve been a driving force in health care simulation as well so we have this very large mannequin or a life-like Barbie doll essentially.”
METI-Man weighs about 150 pounds and it takes about three computers to run him. The majority were made by Canadian Aviation Enterprises – the people who make the flight simulators that pilots are trained on.
He does all the same sort of things that a real live patient would do; he breathes, blinks, shivers from fever, he’s even got a pulse and a blood pressure.
“We can listen to his heart sounds and his breath sounds and assess him. The students really come into this lab and we encourage them to try out things and make mistakes here because we want them to make mistakes and learn from their mistakes in a very safe environment before they get out into clinical practice.”
Bridging the gap in long distance education
BCIT has one of the largest simulation centres in Canada, and if you’ve ever taken long distance courses, you know the kind of divide it can create.
It’s hard enough to handle the stresses of learning to be a nurse, but it can be even more challenging when you’re a country away.
Kruger however says, problem solved.
“The students who are at distance have chosen distance education for a lot of reasons. Some of it is monetary, some of it is they like where they are living, they can’t move, there are some family issues, they can’t come to campus.”
“So we do a lot of things on campus for those students who can’t attend. They seem to be at a disadvantage, much like patients who live in Northern BC who may not have the same health care. So I want to provide here at BCIT the same experience for students at a geographical disadvantage and we can do that through video conferencing, telepresencing robots and a lot of things. We can bring these people into the classroom and they can participate with students who are on campus.”
Education in nursing has evolved so rapidly that now any students who sign on to become a specialty or critical care nurse can be more involved than ever.
“One of the other emerging technologies which is really emerging is tele-health. It’s getting big because there aren’t enough physicians around and nurses in some of the more northern communities. I’ve taken that idea and looked at virtual presencing, so what we’ve got behind you with a red t-shirt on is a essentially a hoverboard on a stick with an iPad attached and it can give students access to this device and they can roll around in the classrooms and attend virtually from anywhere in the world.”
Clearly, education in nursing never stays the same, it’s always evolving, and at BCIT, it’s on the cutting edge.
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