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Keyser Campus sophomores work with standardized patients for hands-on nursing experience

West Virginia University School of Nursing Keyser Campus sophomore students

KEYSER, W.Va. — West Virginia University School of Nursing Keyser Campus sophomore students recently completed two simulations as part of their NSG 212 course — one on the care of a post-op patient with diabetes and another on the care of a patient with seizures who suffered a head injury.

In these simulations, students work with standardized patients, which are individuals trained to take on the characteristics, mannerisms, actions, and emotions of a real patient in a specific health situation.

The “patient” must be able to stay in character and dynamically respond as the patient care scenario unfolds. Standardized patients are a valuable asset to student learning in nursing and other healthcare professions and play a vital role in clinical simulation.

“Having a real-life patient when going through our clinical simulations gave us as students a greater insight on how different situations may occur and the many curveballs that come along with it,” said Jenna Biggs.

Another student, Emily Golden, agreed.

“I thought having a real actor compared to a manikin was very beneficial. The ‘patient’ was able to give real feedback and the simulation felt more like a real patient-nurse interaction,” Golden said.

The “patient” in these scenarios, Milda Mullins, is a trained standardized patient and has been volunteering with the WVU School of Nursing Keyser Campus for the past two years.

“I love these nursing patient simulations at Potomac State. They’re an engaging way to give students hands-on instruction and, from my perspective being a pretend patient, it’s easy to see students get so much value from it,” Mullins said.

She said students can exercise a host of skills, from problem-solving to working on a team.

“Healthcare, while no doubt rewarding, is a challenging field; that’s something we’ve seen illuminated especially during the pandemic,” Mullins continued. “Anything these students can do to prepare them for real world experiences in healthcare will, I believe, only help them and further their skill set in the field.”

Mullins also commended the nursing instructors on a job well done in preparing students to be skilled and empathetic healthcare providers.

“Simulation is a great way for our students to learn critical nursing skills, including communication, teamwork, and clinical judgment,” said April Shapiro, Keyer Campus Chairperson. “Using a mix of manikins and standardized patients gives our student a well-rounded simulation experience to build their confidence in patient care.”