There’s a manikin at Spokane Community College that blinks, bleeds and births babies.
It’s being used in a new simulation lab at the college, which helps nursing students prepare for real-life hospital scenarios. The newly renovated rooms that house the lab hosted its first students on Wednesday.
Before the lab opened, Spokane Community College had to rent a simulation room from Washington State University, which cost about $20,000 a year, said Cheryl Osler, SCC’s associate dean of nursing.
“We’re able to bring those funds back here,” she said.
SCC spent $482,500 on the new simulation lab to house the manikin, which the school bought about a year ago with grant money for $107,000. The school also uses three baby manikins that simulate breathing and have soft spots on their heads that expand and contract.
Faculty member Marty Sells hovered around the nursing students Wednesday in the fake hospital room, still fresh from the remodel. She asked questions and tested the students while they performed post-birth assessments on the manikin.
“This is creating muscle memory,” student Jon McFadden said. “We’re not going into the hospitals like a deer in the headlights.”
The simulation labs are one way the community colleges are helping address a growing nursing shortage, nationwide and in Spokane. Faculty and students say that SCC graduates are more likely to stay in Spokane and help with the local shortage than WSU and Gonzaga nursing graduates are.
“The majority of SCC students stay in the community,” McFadden said. “Their mindset is family-based and community-based.”
Sells said SCC students stay in Spokane after they graduate because they tend to be older, and they already have planted roots in the community. Community colleges are also a cheaper way to earn a nursing degree, Osler said.
“We are the nurses for the community,” Sells said.