GCC & Baystate Franklin Medical Center Partner to Create NEW Simulation Learning Lab

February 11, 2015

Opening in time for the spring semester, Greenfield Community College and Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s new Simulation Learning Lab will provide a state-of-the-art interactive learning environment for GCC students and BFMC health care staff. Partnering to create the new Lab, GCC provided the patient simulation manikin and computers that run it, while BFMC provided space in a building on the BFMC campus. The Lab is outfitted to look like a hospital patient room and is a dedicated space for simulation training for GCC nursing, paramedic, and EMT students and for patient care providers. Using the Simulation Learning Lab, GCC faculty and BFMC nurse educators will provide a practice environment for students and hospital staff to practice clinical, team work, and communication skills. A wide range of specific patient care scenarios can be programmed into the manikin to address different clinical lessons, such as an older patient with dementia and other health issues, labor and delivery, post-partum hemorrhaging, cardiac arrest, gastro-intestinal bleeding, and stroke. Simulations using this type of sophisticated equipment are increasingly a standard part of the curriculum for educating health care providers. Key components of simulation training include an opportunity for students to develop muscle memory and cognitive memory and get feedback on their skills through expert debriefing of the scenario.

The new Simulation Learning Lab represents an expansion of the long-time collaboration between the college and the hospital. The idea for the Lab started with a GCC Associate Degree Nursing Program Advisory Board meeting last summer when GCC faculty expressed frustration that they had the equipment for another simulation lab, but lacked the space for it. Kayte Bak MSN, RN, BFMC’s Nurse Practice Educator, heard the faculty’s concern and wondered whether BFMC could accommodate the space needed. GCC faculty and staff and BFMC staff were enthusiastic about working together to create a Simulation Learning Lab. Since then, representatives of each institution met to work out the details of the partnership and the two institutions signed a partnership contract in November.

Nancy Craig-Williams PhD, MS, RN, GCC’s Assistant Dean for Nursing Programs, said “This partnership brings together the resources of two community institutions – GCC and BFMC – to expand educational opportunities for our community. The hospital is providing much needed space for education of GCC students, hospital staff, and area EMS providers. This new Simulation Learning Lab and continued collaboration between GCC and BFMC means everyone wins – students seeking to develop health care careers, hospital and EMS professionals seeking professional development, and the community being served by area health care professionals.”

Bak said, “GCC and BFMC already share a strong working collaboration, and this takes it to another level. Because of our strong connection, the generous donors who provided the simulation equipment to GCC, and BFMC’s commitment to our community, BFMC’s nurses and other health care providers will be able to learn in a state-of-the-art safe environment.”

Leesa-Lee Keith RN, MSN, Chief Nursing Officer at BFMC, agrees that “This partnership helps our whole community succeed. For hospital personnel, the Lab offers a low-stress learning environment where people can learn best. This technology allows us to bring the very best to GCC students and health care providers on the hospital staff. The Lab helps BFMC stay on the cusp of best practices, so we can provide high quality, high safety, compassionate care to members of our community.”

For information about the new Simulation Learning Lab, contact Nancy Craig-Williams at GCC, craig-williams@gcc.mass.edu, 413-775-1758, or Kayte Bak at BFMC, katharine.bak@baystatehealth.org, 413-773-2627. 

By Mary McClintock, ’82