HAMLET — FirstHealth Moore Regional-Hamlet will become a nursing simulation center next fall, allowing students at Richmond Community College to participate in hands-on training without needing human patients.
FirstHealth acquired Sandhills Regional Medical Center in late 2016 and stopped providing clinical services at the hospital Nov. 3. It recently gave RCC permission to use its facilities, which sit next door to the college.
“We’ve been talking about this simulation hospital with FirstHealth for about a year,” RCC President Dale McInnis told Board of Trustees members earlier this month. “They are very committed to this project and its potential to help the nursing shortage.
“It will also impact the quality of nurses we are sending out into the health-care facilities in our area.”
RCC graduates about 40 students per year between its practical nursing and associate degree programs.
The new center will use lifelike robotic simulators instead of living patients. Details have yet to be determined.
“Our students always say they need more hands-on opportunities,” Nursing Department Chair Janet Sims said last fall, “so this simulation hospital would greatly benefit (them).”
Having clinical experience with lifelike robotic simulators allows students to learn from mistakes without causing harm to real-life patients. RCC’s current nursing labs already use six simulators, including one that simulates childbirth.
“Student nurses develop a stronger ability for sound clinical decision-making after having simulated experiences that provide an opportunity to practice in a safe environment,” Sims said.
RCC will seek national accreditation for the center from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Such accreditation would allow the nursing department to use simulation in 50 percent of clinical training, rather than the 25 percent of the 96 hours per semester allowed by the N.C. Board of Nursing.
McInnis said RCC also was seeking ways other health-science programs also could use the simulation center.
Richmond Community College students in the Associate Degree Nursing program put theory to practice working with a “newborn” in the nursing lab.