JU Healthcare Simulation Center preps RNs for “real life”

Jacksonville University and Baptist Health have teamed up to train nearly 600 new nurses at the JU Healthcare Simulation Center.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Registered nurses stand around a gurney. 

They watch as one of their colleagues gives CPR. 

“Push harder,” a machine says. 

It appears to be a high-pressure situation, only it’s not. The resident is giving compressions to the mannequin and the registered nurses are taking turns. 

The modeled situation is part of training at the Jacksonville University Healthcare Simulation Center.

The center was built in 2019 and has contracts with several health agencies, including Baptist Health. 

“We are surrounded by dynamic educators that help us connect all the dots,” registered nurse, Alina Kelly-Stewart said. 

“You’ve got to have a certain level of confidence and skill and I think we teach them that,” Baptist Health residency program director Nancy Ewing said. 

Over the next 11 weeks, 62 Baptist Health registered nurses will take part in basic and intensive training to better prepare them for their full-time jobs. 

The center recently increased in size from nearly 1,800 square feet to just over 3,100 square feet. Jacksonville University wanted to be able to accommodate more residents during the current nurse shortage.

“I’ve been a nurse for 34 years and there has never been a crisis like this. So imagine young nurses coming out of nursing school not having much training at the bedside clinically because hospitals couldn’t allow their students in due to the high complexity of the patient,” Healthcare Simulation Center Executive Director, Dr. Kathleen Kavanagh said. 

Kavanagh and Ewing believe pandemic drain and traveling nurse opportunities are the main contributors to the shortage. They hope the simulation center can help attract more registered nurses, such as Mark Graham. 

“They (Baptist Health) have all the equipment available. They have a very educated and well-informed staff and the experience in the residency program. I have nothing to compare it to, it’s been great,” registered nurse Mark Graham said. 

Graham had his own personal reason for becoming a nurse. 

“For about five years before I started nursing school I had become the stay-at-home caregiver for my mother, she passed away from COPD. Every patient I see, this is my mom or my grandmother,” Graham said. 

Graham and the rest of his class will wrap up the training in early 2022 and be ready to start their full-time jobs at Baptist Health. Baptist is one of the multiple health agencies contracted by Jacksonville University to use its Healthcare Simulation Center. 

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