Innovative Learning

Students and a child "patient" at USD's Dickinson Simulation Center


Martin Dickinson eloquently explained why the foundation he heads, the Donald C. and Elizabeth M. Dickinson Foundation, decided to give $2 million in support of a new facility within the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science.

“I’m very interested in ripple effects, and how one person can affect so many others,” he said. “The School of Nursing’s students go on to teach, or their work in hospitals allow them to have an impact on so many people.”

That was in 2013.

Today, a new tool that leads to that sort of profound, lasting impact is the Dickinson Nursing Simulation Center (DNSC), a state-of-the-art 10,000-square-foot facility on the first floor of USD’s Betty and Bob Beyster Institute for Nursing Research, Advanced Practice, and Simulation. The center is designed to mirror clinical settings and provide students with a safe, low- stress environment in which they can learn, practice and sharpen their skills.

The center’s design includes a central lecture-hall/lab — the only one in San Diego to receive national and international accreditation — which is surrounded with vignettes of hospital patient beds on the periphery, an adjacent hospital nursing station and individual acute and primary care rooms.

The educational technique of nursing simulation involves a created situation that allows students to experience representations of real-life events for practice, learning, evaluation or testing of a skill or action. In nursing education, this training provides a bridge that helps to integrate and apply theoretical classroom knowledge with clinical skills in practice.

The DNSC uniquely uses simulation methodology to both teach and evaluate skills and clinical practice. Clinical Simulation Encounters are formative learning events held two to three times per semester, in which faculty facilitate curriculum-based learning with small groups of students who interact with case-trained, standardized patient actors in videotaped clinical scenarios.

As a profession, nursing is moving toward simulation-based assessments for registered nurse licensure. As a result of philanthropy during the course of the Leading Change campaign, graduates of the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science will be well-prepared for these types of licensure and specialty examinations.

The Dickinson Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the Hahn School, which is the only nursing school in Southern California dedicated exclusively to the graduate education of nurses. Over the years, the foundation has given additional annual support to the school’s scholarship fund.

“We’ve been so impressed by the quality of the students and how appreciative they are,” says Dickinson. “It’s made us feel very connected to the school.” — Cheryl Butera, PhD, APRN


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