College of Nursing

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Training brings future doctors, nurses together in clinical simulations

April 1, 2014

Johnny Jones has high blood pressure and diabetes, conditions often seen by health care providers in eastern North Carolina. But a swollen leg and fever brought him to the hospital.

Three nurses and two physicians started their assessment when Jones, who had been coughing non-stop, said he couldn't breathe. "Let's get him some oxygen," a doctor said. "We may have to intubate."

His care team was actually fourth-year East Carolina University nursing and medical students, and Jones was a mannequin in the Brody School of Medicine's Clinical Simulation Center. Close to 200 students, about to graduate to nursing careers and residency, trained together in a "transition collaborative" held March 17-19.

"They've come in contact together in clinical settings, but we've never had them work together in teams before as part of the curriculum," said Dr. Luan Lawson, assistant dean of curriculum, assessment and clinical academic affairs in the Brody School of Medicine.

While the exercise tested the students' knowledge and readiness, it also measured communication skills. Students weren't technically graded but did get feedback from experienced physicians, nurses and faculty members who observed the 10-minute clinical scenarios.

"Medicine is very team-oriented," Lawson said. "We can deliver high quality and safer care to our patients by focusing on teamwork."

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