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ECU School of Nursing receives $50,000 grant to partner with PCC on simulation education

August 10, 2007

East Carolina University's School of Nursing has received a $50,000 grant to partner with Pitt Community College to teach students using patient simulators and to train faculty in the use of the technology.

The North Carolina Area Health Education Centers Program awarded the grant to support ECU in sharing its facilities and providing training to PCC faculty on how to teach in a simulated environment while giving PCC students access to specialized simulated scenarios such as obstetric and medical-surgical nursing. A portion of the grant will provide PCC with funding to expand their integrated simulation lab.

"I think this is collaboration at its best," said Elizabeth De Jesus Toderick, director of nursing at PCC.

Simulation-based education is designed to mimic real-life clinical situations where the learner is given an opportunity to reason though a problem, practice in a no-risk, hands-on environment with a mannequin and safely make diagnostic and treatment decisions before proceeding to actual patient care areas.

ECU's Concepts Integration Laboratory, which has eight labs in the Health Sciences Building, is led by executive director Dr. Laura Gantt and lab coordinators Rita Coggins and Tamara Congdon. ECU has 10 medium- and high-fidelity simulator patients, three intravenous insertion devices and many non-computerized mannequins and models.

All of PCC's nursing faculty, many whom graduated from ECU, rotated through obstetric labs with their students this summer. Classes will continue during the fall and spring semesters as part of the yearlong grant.

"This project has brought ECU and PCC faculties together in a rather monumental way," said Dr. Sylvia Brown, acting dean of the ECU School of Nursing. "Relationships, trust and camaraderie have developed to link us to one another as we all strive to create quality nursing education and address the nursing shortage. We anticipate that many of PCC's associate degree nurse graduates will continue their education in our RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN options."

The project will ultimately prepare PCC nursing faculty to further develop and teach in their own simulation lab, which would be used for all allied health sciences programs at the community college. In turn, their faculty would share their knowledge and resources with other community colleges, Toderick said.

"It will trickle down," she said. "It's far-reaching for all of us. We're really excited about it."

Earlier this year PCC received $28,000 in special appropriations from the N.C. General Assembly which was used to purchase simulation equipment. Toderick was recently notified that they would receive additional funding in the same amount.

"We will grow it even more," she said.

Alison Knox, a PCC nurse faculty member and 1994 ECU graduate, said the grant is an incredible opportunity. "I was very impressed with ECU as far as the collaborative spirit. They definitely made this happen for us and put a lot of work into the project," she said.

The partnership will serve as a model for the ECU School of Nursing to collaborate with other community colleges and clinical agencies in the region. The project has the potential to help hundreds of students. Simulation is one strategy for expanding access to clinical education and maximizing the use of both faculty time and clinical resources, Gantt said.