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UNG simulation lab a safe place for mistakes
Nursing students practice their craft in replica of hospital setting
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Katie Parrish, University of North Georgia’s College of Health Sciences director of simulation, speaks during the Center for Clinical Simulation open house Thursday at the UNG Gainesville campus. - photo by Erin O. Smith

“The baby turns blue. His heart rate stops until we do our job.”

Jessica Hill, nursing faculty member for the University of North Georgia, described how a baby simulator works in the Center for Clinical Simulation.

“The simulator actually tells the instructor if the students are doing it correctly,” Hill said about the practice nursing students can get in the university’s birthing suite in the lab.

That kind of simulator was not available when she was training to be a nurse, Hill said. The experience in the simulation lab is “priceless” because, as retired airline pilot Augie DeAugustinis, said, “This is where we want them to make mistakes.”

UNG celebrated its simulation center with an open house and tours Thursday evening on the Gainesville campus. The a 3,600-square-foot area mirrors a hospital environment with hospital-grade equipment.

DeAugustinis, a member of the advisory council for the simulation center, said he was recruited for the group because of “my experience, over 35 years, of using simulations for training.”

Katie Parrish, the director of the center, said the center is “a safe place for students to figure out what this nursing thing really is.”

She added, “I can create any environment we want — good, bad or in-between.”

The $2 million project includes hospital “rooms” with “patients” who have a heartbeat, bleed, can speak, move their limbs, move and blink their eyes. It also has a birthing suite, complete with a “mama” who can give birth and the baby, also with a heartbeat and soft spot on its head.

Hill noted she can properly position “mama’s” leg — which would have dislocated the hip of the mannequin on which she trained.

Teresa Conner-Kerr, the dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professions, touted the plans to work across disciplines with the simulation. “We don’t work separately,” she said.

She said the university’s goal is to make the training “more realistic than it’s ever been done everywhere else.” She said DeAugustinis’ experience will be invaluable in that area.

The first nursing class on the Gainesville campus in January is expected to graduate in 2017.

Bonita Jacobs, the president of UNG, said the nursing program needed to expand to Gainesville because the Dahlonega campus could not accept as many qualified candidates as it receives. She said UNG nursing graduates “are not quite at 100 percent” in passing the licensing exam, “but we are darned close.”

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