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Little Rock nursing program using new simulator to teach students

The UA Little Rock nursing program trains future healthcare workers using new simulation technology like virtual reality and interactive manikins.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — At first glance, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Center for Simulation Innovation looks and sounds like a hospital.

It's designed to give the nursing students a feel for the real thing.

Jolesha Holder has been a licensed practical nurse for eight years and will graduate from the university Saturday as a registered nurse.

She joined the program to pursue her passion for helping people.

"I want to do something where people wouldn't mind trusting bringing their family member," Holder said.

Along with Holder, Caitlin Pipkin, another student, credited the specialized manikins for keeping the experience realistic.

"You'll have some patients that are very chill and laid back, soft-spoken," Pipkin said. "Then you'll have patients that are manic and all over the place."

The technology is nothing the program has seen before, including virtual reality and interactive patients.

Students learn how to respond to a transgender simulation, multi-patient critical care simulation, multi-patient mental health simulation, elder abuse simulation, emergency room simulation, Infection obstetric simulation and wearable geriatric experience.

Dr. Joanna Hall, a former student and the Center for Simulation Innovation leader, knows all too well about needing the best resources to learn about nursing.

"There is something incredibly valuable for our students to be able to come in, act in the capacity of a nurse and make those mistakes," Hall said.

The program aims to perfect mistakes and talk them out, which Pipkin said will help her transition into the professional world at a real hospital.

"I would rather make every single mistake in my career in this room than on a real person," Pipkin said.

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