Fresno State nursing students turn to virtual simulation to finish clinical requirements

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As the need for nurses rises, colleges are working to find ways for their nursing students to get the clinical hours they need, but it's not an easy task.

Blake Martin is a senior nursing student at Fresno State, who never expected his clinical hours to look like this.

"The nurse would walk into the room and see the patient and then the video would pause and then, 'what should the nurse do?' would pop on the screen and whatever you click the actor would do what you clicked and it was almost a video game," explained Martin.

This is the new reality. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fresno State School of nursing faculty quickly realized they'd be facing some unforeseen challenges.

"We had to do some planning on how we could handle the remaining clinical hours that students needed to complete for the semester," said Dept. Chair Sylvia Miller.

"We want to get them finished, if we don't we're going to have a huge nursing shortage again," said Asst. Professor Kathleen Rindahl.

In normal circumstances, nursing students have to complete a certain number of clinical hours in a hospital working with patients, but that's no longer an option.

"We kind of knew it was going to happen," said Rindahl. "We had already thought of a game plan, we had a contingency plan in place of what we were going to do."

"We have simulation mannequins that instructors are using through virtual reality, we have a simulation chest they can put on and listen to heart sounds," Rindahl continued.

Instead of going into a hospital, students are going online and using virtual simulations to complete their clinical hours.

"We get a virtual scenario of a patient and how to do you prioritize their care and what do you look for," explained Martin.

Their goal is to graduate these students on time. Right now, nursing schools across the state are asking the board of registered nurses to relax some requirements.
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