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Future Nurses Have an Edge at Pace University

Every day nurses make countless decisions that impact patient care and ultimately save lives. How do they know they are making the right decision? They have been taught by experts in the field and have developed crucial skills such as clinical reasoning and critical thinking, and they’ve had hands-on experience.

One way they get that experience is through simulation.

New labs in the College of Health Professions at Pace University allow students to take part in simulations that expose them to a range of scenarios so they know exactly what to do when faced with these situations in real life. The labs also enable students to practice skills, familiarize themselves with electronic medical records, and prepare medications using computerized systems to reduce the chance of error.

The labs have the latest generation of human patient simulators (HPS), along with a video capture and playback system that includes camera feeds from the simulation rooms. Videos are stored and viewed on computers, allowing faculty members to evaluate and debrief students on performance. Students may also review their own performance in scenarios, as self-reflection is a vital component to learning in the simulation environment. Several of Pace’s clinical partners throughout the region will also use the space to develop and reinforce critical clinical skills required of health-care workers.

The new labs include a “control room” so students will be immersed in simulations without faculty members having to be in the same room. This helps students suspend their disbelief and helps them to be fully present in the simulation experience.

“Students are on their own. Without interference of faculty members, the situation becomes more real,” says Professor Elizabeth Berro, RN. She notes that faculty members are still able to cue students with phone calls, patient behaviors (controlled through computerized mannequins), and “standardized patients” (actors playing the role of patients) to meet the overall objectives of the scenario.

The renovations enable multiple acute scenarios to take place simultaneously, so students are exposed to situations where patients need a specific course of action to be taken; these situations may not occur in a hospital every day, but students need to learn about them so they know exactly what to do when they occur.

The improvements allow for an area designated for standardized patients (actors) to get ready for their scenarios. Keeping them separated from students increases the authenticity of the scenario, aiding in the learning experience. The actors will be able to watch scenarios unfold on monitors so they know when to join the scene.

The renovations also mean there is ample space for students from all programs to learn and practice basic skills. There are skills rooms for family nurse practitioner (FNP) students and physician assistant (PA) students to provide physical exams and to be evaluated by their professors. The labs will be heavily used with as many as 500 “events” during a semester.

Feedback from students has been extremely positive so far. “They look forward to practicing in the labs; they are so excited, and they benefit from the safe environment we create. A mistake made and learned from in the lab today under the watchful guidance of a faculty member could help save a life tomorrow in a real clinical setting,” says Clinical Instructor Joanne Knoesel, RN.

According to Dean and Professor Harriet R. Feldman, PhD, RN, FAAN, “Our students get evidence-based learning experiences that are deeply meaningful while at the same time realistic and safe. They develop confidence in their skill set before moving on to the clinical setting.”

Hospitals and other health-care organizations seek out students with simulation on their résumés, according to Associate Dean Gerrie Colombraro, PhD, RN, “Our students have a competitive advantage when they graduate because they’ve done simulation. It shows potential employers that they’ve worked in teams to solve problems and that they’ve been exposed to complicated or high risk scenarios.”

About the College of Health Professions

Pace’s College of Health Professions is made up of the Lienhard School of Nursing and the Pace University-Lenox Hill Hospital Physician Assistant Studies program. Students at the College learn evidence-based care, cultural competence and primary health care in an interprofessional setting in programs preparing them to be family nurse practitioners, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, registered nurses and clinical leaders.

About the CEL

The Clinical Education Labs at Pace’s College of Health Professions create an active interprofessional learning environment which promotes intellectual curiosity and integration of clinical and didactic health-care knowledge utilizing current effective technology in full collaboration with Pace University, the College of Health Professions, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners.

About Pace University

Since 1906, Pace University has educated thinking professionals by providing high-quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Visit

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