Nursing is ‘sim possible’ at Catawba’s new lab

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 10, 2016

Steve Austin’s blood pressure dropped and his breathing became shallow as his respiration decreased. But Dr. Racquel Ingram, chair of Catawba’s nursing program, was not alarmed. She knew Austin’s symptoms were mere simulations, programmed to teach nursing students how to properly assess and monitor patient vital signs.

Austin, in real life known as Laerdal’s SimMan 3G, is one of six “patients” at Catawba — all long-term care residents — who need constant monitoring and proper nursing intervention. Austin and his fellow patients reside in a new nursing simulation lab located in Catawba’s Shuford Science Building, and await the first cohort of experienced registered nurses who will seek their bachelor of science in nursing degrees expected to arrive this spring.

“We prepare nurse generalists, and we want them to be able to meet or exceed all of the nursing outcomes that are required by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing baccalaureate essentials,” Ingram said. “Our students may decide to specialize in one area of clinical nursing practice after they graduate, but we give them a broad variety of experiences to meet complex health care needs of 21st century patients across the lifespan.”

Other sims include a baby, a pregnant mother capable of accurately simulating birth and an elderly patient. There are also two low-fidelity “Nursing Annes” that aren’t able to move or make sounds on their own. These sims are hispanic and African-American, and can have their sex changed by affixing interchangeable genitalia.

“Having diversity among our patients is important,” Ingram explained. “It’s what today’s health care looks like. And, finding a vein to start an IV on a darker-skinned patient can be different from finding a vein on a lighter-skinned patient. Our students need to be skilled in caring for diverse populations.”

Ingram is excited to be one of the professionals who will educate and train Catawba College nurses.

“If you train your nursing students right initially, it will stay with them until the end of their education and follow them into nursing practice,” Ingram asserted. “We have these real life simulators so our students will learn to do it right. They will be some of the best trained nurses in the state of North Carolina. For our RN to BSN students, we expect the skills and knowledge they will bring into our program with them to be enhanced.”

For more information on the RN to BSN degree at Catawba College, contact Dr. Racquel Ingram, chair of Nursing Department, at 704-645-4860 or Dr. Jeffrey Bowe, director of the School of Evening & Graduate Studies, at 704-637-4463, or visit the Catawba website at