MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Nursing students at Spring Hill College now have access to the first simulation labs at the institution.

Four years after the simulation labs were first mentioned, students finally have the chance to put what they’ve learned into practice and get one step closer to gaining real-world experience for their future careers. 

Manikins that are life-like and behave naturally are used in the simulation labs. Every single one of them, from a birthing simulator to a pediatric simulator, has a heartbeat, a pulse and can also talk. 

The labs give students the opportunity to experience critical situations, so they can learn how to properly assess scenarios they’ll face in a hospital.

Kathy Sheppard, former chair of the nursing division, pioneered the simulation labs. According to her, the goal is to prepare students for real-patient care following graduation.

“The simulation is a great learning environment and it’s a safe learning environment because the patients can’t be hurt,” said Sheppard, the Associate Provost for Professional Programs. “We can control what goes on in here and we can guide them, but predominantly we want the students to come in here and take care of the patients like they would if they were the nurse in a facility.”

Some students said it’s a great addition to the program and they are hopeful it will help them to make fewer mistakes in the workplace.

“It’s intimidating, but it’s nice to know that we can go back and we can learn from it and we can get the constructive criticism and know what to do better and then take the skills that we’re learning in the lab back to the clinical setting,” said Caisey Griffith, a Junior nursing major.

“The experience for me has been a little nerve racking at times, but with the immediate feedback I get from my instructors, it’s very helpful,” said DeCarlos Rembert, a Junior nursing major.

The labs also incorporate virtual reality, allowing students to put on a headset and see how the body operates from the inside.

“They are actually visualizing the heart of the patient,” said the simulation lab instructor.

Faculty at Spring Hill said these new labs are also a tool for recruiting local students to the nursing program, which will help to meet the rising need for nurses nationally.