This year marks the 50th anniversary of Paris Junior College’s associate nursing degree program.

It’s part of eight health occupation programs designed to meet the local workforce needs, according to Dr. Gregory Ferenchak, program dean.

“Last spring the health occupation labs were renovated and new equipment was installed,” he said. “All of the renovations and new equipment benefit the Health Occupation students by preparing them for real-life experiences in a controlled lab environment.”

To start with, the flooring of the Emergency Medical Services Lab was recovered to allow students to practice their skills on the floor. The lab also got an ambulance simulator, which allows students to practice their skills in an environment that closely resembles the inside of a transport vehicle. The simulator cost about $47,000, and it was purchased using funds received from grants and foundations.

Most recently, the EMS Lab was awarded funds provided through a grant to purchase two power stretchers, iSimulation devices and MegaCode Kelly manikins, Ferenchak said.

“The power stretchers are what is used on the EMS trucks so now the students can practice transporting patients in the lab before being assigned to the ambulance,” he said.

The iSimulation monitor will save the college money in the long run because it allows faculty to demonstrate several different brands of monitors without having to purchase each one, Ferenchak said, and the students can practice monitoring heat conditions and vitalsigns. The power stretchers cost a total of $20,500, and the iSimulator was $16,820.

The MegaCode Manikins allow paramedic students to practice all of their skills, such as starting IVs, preforming CPR and inserting breathing tubes.

“Mastering these important skills can only be achieved through simulation or on live patients,” Ferenchak said. “While students do attend clinical rotations for the real-life experiences, we prefer them to be competent in their skills before preforming them on live patients. ... Faculty can prevent unsafe practice in the clinical setting by correcting it in the simulated environment.”

The use of simulation in the education of Health Occupation programs is rapidly increasing, he added, and to provide nursing faculty with the tools to thread simulation into the curriculum, state-of-the-art Laerdal manikins were purchased for the nursing lab. Nursing Anne and Nursing Kelly manikins, which are operated with an iPad, were purchased and introduced to students last summer. The manikins included six adult, one pediatric and one infant, all of which include a bedside monitor.

“The renovation also included the installation of a 3-G SimMan, which includes 20 case studies that the faculty can use to simulate real-life medical conditions that students will encounter as a nurse,” Ferenchak said. “All of these simulators allow the faculty to prepare the students for their clinical courses when they rotate through the hospital and work alongside a registered nurse in the caring of patients. Currently, the associate degree nursing program uses about 20 percent of the clinical time in the simulation lab which allows the faculty to ensure that all program competencies are achieved by the students.”

The Surgical Technology Lab was fitted with a surgical overhead lamp that now reflects a true-to-life operating room. Students can scrub at the sink after gowning and masking up for the simulated surgical procedure and then walk into a simulated sterile environment, he said.

“Students may now open trays and set up for various procedures in the lab prior to actually assisting in the hospital operating room,” he said.

The Radiology Technology lab received a new x-ray tube, table and upright bucky, which simulates what the students will use in the hospital radiology lab. The new equipment allows students to practice positioning and interacting with patients prior to completing their rotations at the hospital, Ferenchak said.

“Faculty provide students with scenarios that are designed to help the student apply critical thinking and problem solving skills that they learned in the classroom,” he said. “The college recently received $12,775 to purchase another x-ray unit to accommodate the number of students in the program. The new unit will allow the students more hands-on experience in the lab.”

Ferenchak said while a lot of money has been spent upgrading the labs, it’s necessary to train future medical care providers.

“The costs to purchase all of the new equipment enhances the education of our students and better prepares them to be a valuable employee to our community medical providers,” he said.

Kim Cox is the city editor for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6965 or at kim.cox@theparisnews.com.

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