Greene County

Grant provides 'human simulator lab'

TUSCULUM, Tenn. - The nursing program at Tusculum College in Greeneville is still in its first year with its first students. The program has taken a huge leap forward thanks to a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.

The grant enabled the program to put in service two human simulators for training for that first class of nurses and those who come after.

Just like children gathered around a favorite Christmas toy, Tusculum College's first-year nursing students give their new human simulators a test run. "It makes all the difference to make all that information in our books actually spring to life in our hands right in front of us, it's a wonderful opportunity," says nursing student Alexandria Hartman.

It's an opportunity provided by a grant of just over a quarter of a million dollars from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee. The company explained their top two priorities: infant care and mortality, plus patient care and safety. "As we look at the various grant applications we look to see if they fall into that category, which obviously a simulation lab for a school of nursing clearly comes right in the middle of patient safety and quality in educating our workforce," Blue Cross/Blue Shield CEO Vicky Gregg said.

"It just makes it so much more real to allow the students the opportunity to practice before they actually get in a patient situation," college president Nancy Moody added.

Not only is the simulation lab perfect for the present students but for those looking for a school to attend. "Students are very consumer-driven so they'll do a lot of research about the school they want to go to before they apply. When they do the research on the simulators they'll see what a wonderful opportunity they'll have to learn their nursing skills," says nursing dean Lois Ewen.

As for the students already in the program, there's no holding back their excitement. "Oh boy, we're excited about that, yes we are. It will help us learn to set the patient, learn how to take vital signs, all different kinds of things to know before we actually get our hands on that patient," student Jama Garnell said.

All of the students are proud to be a part of the new lab and part of the new program. "It's a great opportunity to be here at the beginning of something great," Megan Casteel said.

Tusculum hopes to double the nursing program's class size next year.

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