Hands-On Learning

Steven Knapp in the nursing simulation room with a mannequin in hospital bed
September 13, 2010

The George Washington University School of Nursing announced a $23,000 gift on Monday from Reston Hospital Center and the Hospital Corporation of America Virginia Health System, which provided extra equipment for the school’s new simulation lab.

A large component of students’ curriculum in the School of Nursing, which opened its doors in July, is working in the skills and simulation lab at the GW Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn, Va. The lab allows students to work autonomously in simulated, real-life situations, while nursing faculty members oversee, evaluate and provide feedback.

“This generous gift from HCA Virginia and Reston Hospital Center will expand the hands-on learning opportunities we offer nursing students,” said GW President Steven Knapp at an event showcasing the simulation lab earlier today. “Such partnerships greatly enhance our ability to meet the commonwealth’s educational needs.”

The gift has allowed GW to make the lab more like a real hospital so students can get comfortable and gain experience before starting their clinical rotations.

Inside the simulation lab, students are assigned several mannequins, which act like real-life patients. Not only do the mannequins blink and have a pulse, they can also bleed, perspire and speak 20 different languages. The mannequins display different health problems, and the students are required to treat them accordingly.

“As a newly established school of nursing, we are truly grateful for HCA Virginia’s support for our programs,” said Jean Johnson, dean of the School of Nursing. “By providing our students with the highest quality education and cutting-edge technology for learning, we know that our graduates will be prepared to take on the challenges that nurses face in the field.”

Christy Phillips, a GW nursing student, said she met the mannequins on her first day of nursing school.

“It was a little intimidating because we had no idea they would talk back to us or blink their eyes,” she said. “We’re really responsible for their care and have to respond when unexpected things happen.”

David Ward, another nursing student, said working on the mannequins has enhanced his educational experience.

“It made me a lot more confident in the hospital,” he said.

GW educates more than 2,000 students in Virginia each semester not only at the Ashburn campus but also at other education centers in Alexandria, Arlington and Virginia Beach.

“I’m glad that George Washington University’s presence in the Commonwealth is growing stronger,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Gerard Robinson, who attended the announcement.

Dean Johnson said she hopes GW can send the Reston Hospital Center, which is one of HCA’s 13 hospitals in Virginia, very well-prepared students.

“We’re hoping to be part of the solution to the nursing shortage problem,” she said.

Cindy Glover, chief nursing officer of Reston Hospital Center, said GW’s commitment to nursing is coming at just the right time.

“As Reston Hospital Center continues to grow, it is more important than ever to have competent nurses to care for our community,” she said. “GW is such a prestigious school, and I’m dying for your students to come work here.”

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