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Donna Adams, DNSc, RN, is the dean of academic affairs at Chamberlain College of Nursing’s Phoenix campus.

As opportunities for placing students in acute care clinical experiences decrease for all nursing schools, alternative activities are being created that enable the student to meet clinical course outcomes. According to research, students’ abilities to exercise clinical reasoning and decision-making are increased when engaged in these alternatives.

The Phoenix Campus is implementing exciting new ways to enhance the traditional clinical experience for nursing students. The activities include realistic simulations on manikins and laboratory exercises relevant to the course competencies. There are many advantages to student participation in simulation learning. These include participating in patient scenarios that often are unavailable to students in clinical agencies, being able to learn in an environment where there is freedom to make mistakes and to learn from them, as well as customizing learning to fit student needs. Simulated and laboratory experiences mimic the environments of healthcare agencies. A community health nursing activity allows the student to practice care delivery in a simulated home setting.

Virtual experiences such as ATI and ACTIVSim will begin in the March session in all Phoenix campus nursing courses containing a clinical or laboratory component. These are particularly appealing to students who enjoy the use of electronics in learning. All of this structured learning, which is carefully planned by experienced faculty, is grouped under the label of the Experiential Learning Model (ELM). The model provides many opportunities for students’ active learning that is transferable to caring for patients in all types of settings.

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