EKU Nursing Lab Offers Hands-On Experience for Students

Published on April 11, 2024

By Ethan Sirles

In Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) nursing program, students get hands-on learning with state-of-the-art equipment in the Nursing Clinical Skills Laboratory and Simulation Center (CSLSC). 

Thanks to a donation from Baptist Health Richmond in July 2022, the lab now includes seven new Stryker hospital beds, allowing students to have access to beds currently found in modern hospitals. Also announced in 2022, the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s (CPE) Healthcare Workforce Collaborative dispersed $8 million in grants to the state’s public colleges and universities. EKU’s School of Nursing received a $634,500 grant from CPE for their CSLSC. The goal of the grants is to help schools address the healthcare shortages being faced by hospitals and health services across the Commonwealth. 

According to the Kentucky Hospital Association’s 2023 Workforce Survey Report, Kentucky hospitals continue to report high vacancy rates for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants, totaling 5,680 reported open nursing positions. 

“We are incredibly proud to be able to offer the most up-to-date equipment possible to our nursing students and prepare them for this important work,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “Thanks to our experienced and professional faculty and the generosity of institutions like Baptist Health Richmond, we’re doing our part to address shortages in Kentucky’s healthcare professions.” 

Along with new beds, the CSLSC has high fidelity mannequins that can replicate functions of actual patients. The high fidelity mannequins utilized in simulation activities provide students a safe environment where they can practice nursing care and receive immediate feedback and guidance from EKU’s expert nursing faculty. The simulation center reinforces essential curricular concepts such as medication administration, prioritization of patient care, communication, patient safety and clinical judgment. 

“From skills to assessments to communication—we focus on best standards of care,” said Dr. Brooke Bentley, EKU School of Nursing chair and professor. “This allows students to be exposed to clinical situations that they might not experience in the clinical setting. We encourage critical thinking and have debriefing sessions to discuss how their actions reflect patient outcomes.”

Many of EKU’s nursing faculty are practicing nurses who teach courses in their area of clinical expertise. With active nurses leading the way in the classrooms, EKU’s nursing students are taught the most current standards of care.   

EKU’s highly reputable nursing programs, from associate to doctoral, ensure students graduate with a high level of skills and experience to begin their nursing careers and help to address the statewide nursing shortage.