VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Valdosta State University School of Nursing is working to combat the nursing shortage, by working to get even more nurses into the field.
Doctor Michele Blankenship, Director of Simulation for VSU School of Nursing, said they will soon have financial support to replace 11 of their outdated manikins through a $446,000 grant from the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce.
"They will be able to more mimic what real people can do, they don't have the nonverbal communication skills but you can actually talk through the manikins," Dr. Blankenship said. "We can give them as close to a real person as we can."
In a clinical or internship setting, if a patient starts to decline students might not get the experience they need to work through that situation.
"The nurses are going to run in the room and throw them out of the way, which is what they should do because it's a real person, and they don't get to think through the process. In here I can mimic that same situation and allow the students to think through the process," Dr. Blankenship explained.
Beth Kirk is a nursing student in her senior year. She says the simulation lab helped her feel more comfortable with interacting with patients.
"Even just walking into a room was kind of embarrassing, I didn't know what to say. But being in the simulation lab, being able to step by step figure out what I'm supposed to do and say 'Hey my name is Beth, can you give me your name and date of birth?' Those little things really make a difference," Kirk said.
Another boost from that grant, Dr. James Pace, Dean for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, says they currently accept 50 students per semester in the fall and spring, and 40 in the summer. That money will help them accept more students from their wait list that usually ranges between 20 to 40 people, helping fill the gap of that nursing shortage.
"This grant will allow us to continue to recruit, admit, and graduate practice ready nurses for the workforce," Dr. Pace said.
Doctor Blankenship said 35% of nurses will leave their first jobs in the first year of their practice. They're hoping the simulation lab will help reduce that number.