“One-hundred percent of our part-time clinical instructors also work at the bedside. So they’re battling the pandemic with patients then taking students in to do the same thing,” shares Sarah Fry, MSN, RN, PHN, Director of Nursing and Allied Health at COD. In the ever-changing times since she joined the college in 2012, the introduction of a high-tech Simulation Lab, led by full-time certified instructor, Mary Suarez, “is the best and most influential improvement we’ve made,” she says.
“Not only has it allowed us to increase our admissions, but it has also improved learning. We can present hands-on opportunities for students to be the decision-makers. Dropped into any number of potential situations they will face, they use their critical thinking and clinical judgment while caring for patients at the bedside. From how to speak to a physician, engage in conflict resolution or handle a distraught family member, it hits every part of nursing.”
Students practice on manikins, some of which – like a baby and a birthing mother – are high-fidelity and offer computerized feedback. Peers observe each Sim Lab, collaborating on their plan for that patient when it’s their turn. To further amplify these powerful role-play scenarios, simulations are recorded and reviewed so students can assess strengths and weaknesses. “It allows them to evaluate where they are and set individual goals,” notes Fry.
Students have flourished with simulations thanks to encouragement from Suarez. This safe but realistic environment readies students to enter our workforce. The Skills Lab mimics a hospital environment to nurture a smooth transition to on-the-job healthcare.
“I am constantly in awe of how generous our community members are,” praises Fry. “Our program is largely donor-funded by philanthropists like the Auen Foundation, Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation, Desert Healthcare District and countless others who understand the critical need for nursing graduates.”
Lauded for its lifelike simulation room that Fry would also love to expand into two spaces, the program has been legendary for more than 50 years. Since 1968, over 3,000 nurses have graduated, many of whom are employed at local hospitals.
As Fry well knows, “When a hospital gets new IV pumps, it’s time for us to get new IV pumps so students are adept with the latest advancements.” Beyond essential equipment, Fry envisions an interdisciplinary simulation center with the National League of Nursing where day-long “mass simulations” integrate future nurses with EMT, paramedic, fire, police, even journalists and theater students acting in multi-department disaster situations, all on the Palm Desert campus.
“For current students, Eisenhower has remained a true and steadfast partner. They hire the majority of our new grads,” says Fry. Of the 2020/21 graduates, 97.5% are employed in nursing. Male enrollment in the RN program is 20%, and 42% of nursing students are first-generation college graduates. Graduates see 110% improvement in their income, earning an average entry-level salary of $71,000.
What’s more, their emotional sensibility and tremendous skillset augment a desire to care for those of all ages, cultures, races, backgrounds and conditions of health and wellness. They leave the program ready to serve our Valley for decades to come.
To support the vitality of the Nursing Program, please call Director of Development, Matt Durkan, at 760.773.2561 or email email@example.com.