On Nov. 8, the School of Nursing (SON) at California State University, Dominguez Hills cut the ribbon on a dedicated clinical skills lab, the first such facility on the university campus in the program’s 29-year history. Construction began in 2008 to convert four classroom spaces on the lower level of the Social and Behavioral Sciences building into a 4,000-square-foot skills lab. The project was made possible with $1.6 million allocated through the CSU Chancellor’s Office system wide nursing facilities improvement fund.
“This lab will make all the difference in the world, because it will give our students enhanced tools to practice competently and safely in the clinical area,” said Dr. Rose Welch, Ed.D., RN, acting director of the School of Nursing. “I’m excited to see how the students react when they see the new lab. It will just make it worth the years that we’ve worked on this project.”
To furnish and equip the space, the school launched a Stock Our Skills Lab (SOS) campaign that year, which to-date has raised more than $130,000, including major donations from Catalina businessman Ken Putnam, who chairs the CSU Dominguez Hills Foundation Board of Directors, Associated Students Inc., and Providence Little Company of Mary Healthcare Foundation, which provided beds.
The facility features a six-bed skills lab that resembles a hospital recovery room; a two-bed simulation lab with high-tech human patient simulators (METI men) purchased through Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California Nurse Education Initiative; a 32-seat “smart” classroom/computer lab with laptops at every station, television monitors, and computerized whiteboards and projectors; and a reception area, as well as office and storage space.
Cameras installed throughout the lab will allow instructors to record the nursing skills that are practiced bedside. Back in the computer lab, students can then view the footage and analyze their skills more thoroughly. Students will also benefit from the addition of the METI men, which can be programmed to present life-like symptoms and respond to nursing students’ care.
Since 1981, the CSU Dominguez Hills School of Nursing has been providing practicing registered nurses across the state the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s or master’s in nursing through a highly regarded distance learning program.
To address the critical shortage of nurses in the state, the school expanded in 2006 to include a pre-licensure master’s degree option for individuals interested in becoming nurses. This entry-level nursing program was designed to be an on-campus program and prompted the need at the university for a dedicated facility where students could practice their techniques.
Admitting approximately 30 new students each fall and with a yearly enrollment of approximately 80 students over two cohorts, the Master’s Entry Level Professional Nurse (MEPN) program previously conducted its skills clinics in a rudimentary lab set up in the SON administrative office space on campus. Students and faculty also traveled to CSU Fullerton to use the lab there. The new skills lab at CSU Dominguez Hills not only will serve the classroom instruction and skills lab needs of the MEPN students, but also the needs of RNs in the online bachelor’s or master’s programs, who as part of their coursework must take health assessment skills tests to demonstrate their competency.
“CSU Dominguez Hills understands the importance of a highly skilled nursing force, and for nearly 30 years has been a leader in educating this state’s nurses,” said President Mildred García. “The addition of this lab on our campus reaffirms our commitment to ensuring our diverse student body is trained in state-of-the-art facilities and standards of practice, and that we are producing well-prepared nursing professionals and healthcare leaders for our communities.”
MEPN student Jose Nava, who received the Dolores Jones Nursing Scholarship from Kaiser Permanente, where he did his clinical training, said that the lab is a boon to him and his classmates, who previously had to travel 50 miles roundtrip to CSU Fullerton in order to serve their 45-required hours in a clinical skills lab.
“You are giving hope not only to us but to future generations of nurses that are going to come after us,” he said to the assembled supporters of the lab. “I hope that this nursing skills lab… will give us more time to practice and hone our skills. As good nurses, it’s not only that we have it here in our minds and in our hearts. We also have to have it in our hands.”
Also recognized at the ribbon cutting were Carole Shea, former SON director, and Mitch Maki, former dean of the College of Professional Studies, under whose leadership the two-year construction project began. Larry Ortiz, acting dean of the College of Professional Studies, introduced Cynthia Johnson, acting SON chair and graduate program coordinator; Patricia Hinchberger, lecturer and director of the MEPN Program; and Laura Inouye, professor of nursing and MEPN assistant director, who led the SOS campaign. Adele Vanarsdale, construction manager of the university’s Facilities Planning and Construction Management was given a special award for her leadership during the two-year project that was designed by architects API Consultants.
SON will continue its campaign to raise money to keep the lab stocked with necessary supplies and equipment. Private and corporate donations of any amounts are welcome. A donor wall will hang in the lab to acknowledge the generosity of students, faculty, alumni and community members.
Approximately 2,000 students are enrolled in either the bachelor’s or master’s in nursing programs at CSU Dominguez Hills, one of the largest nursing programs in the CSU system.
To contribute to the ongoing needs of the lab, contact the CSU Dominguez Hills Office of Development at (310) 243-2182.
For more information about the School of Nursing, visit www.csudh.edu/cps/son.