The patients' pulses are racing, their blood chemistry changing, and they need stitches in their arms, legs, and back.
The situations are real, but the patients are not - they are high-tech mannequins made of soft plastic and circuits playing a crucial role in the real-world scenarios nursing students act out at the new Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas (CSCLV).
The most important feature of these high-tech mannequins is "they allow our students to make mistakes," said Carolyn Yucha, UNLV's dean of nursing. Mistakes are powerful teachers, as the nursing students can attest after they watch their performances on a digital replay.
Without such a lab, nursing students learn theory in the classroom and receive practical training with real patients while their instructors watch, prepared to step in if a student begins to make a mistake.
The 31,000-square-foot center is one of the largest west of the Mississippi. Located at UNLV's Shadow Lane campus in the heart of Las Vegas's medical district, it allows students to hone their skills in a controlled environment.
Nurses and Doctors Train Together
The center is a unique collaboration among the nursing schools at UNLV and Nevada State College and, more unusually, the University of Nevada School of Medicine. By training future nurses and doctors alongside each other, the facility's simulations are all that more realistic.
The inspiration for the CSCLV came during a taxi ride Yucha shared with her Nevada State counterpart after a conference three and a half years ago. Both marveled about the high-tech simulation facilities elsewhere and lamented the struggle of funding one for Southern Nevada. Maybe by working together, they thought, their proposal would attract support.
With the addition of the medical school, the project became a Nevada System of Higher Education priority. This resulted in state funding of $14 million to remodel a space on the Shadow Lance campus. Then the project attracted the attention of The Lincy Foundation, which provided $3.2 million to purchase furnishings and top-of-the-line equipment. Additional funding for equipment came from the federal appropriations.
Recent test scores would indicate that UNLV's nursing students are deserving of the new high-tech clinic.
The School of Nursing posted an impressive 94.6 percent pass rate for its graduates who took the national licensure exam for the first time in 2009 - with 100 percent of the school's test takers passing the exam in the fourth quarter.
The 94.6 percent pass rate on the exam for registered nurses marks a 10 percent increase over the school's 2008 rate of 84.7 percent, and is nearly 7 percent higher than the 2009 national average of close to 88 percent.