New simulation center ready to train next generation of nurses

Hidden behind the red brick exterior of a building in UW-Milwaukee’s Northwest Quadrant, a professional-grade nursing facility designed with clean lines and pale Panther gold paint is where the next generation of health care professionals will learn.

Starting in Fall 2022, nursing students at UW-Milwaukee, UWM at Waukesha and UW-Parkside will gain hands-on work experience at the UWM James and Yvonne Ziemer Clinical Simulation Center. The facility has 23 hospital beds allowing students the ability to practice with manikins to simulate medical procedures such as childbirth. Graduate students will use space in the Simulation Center for physical assessment and other advanced practice experiences.

“I wanted to make sure the simulation space actually matched what professional health care facilities look like,” said Jessica Rotier, clinical assistant professor and director of nursing simulations. “I reached out to everyone I know at different hospitals and asked, ‘What do you have so that we can make sure what we’re doing looks similar to real life?’”

A nursing station is in the center of the facility, opening up to the mini hospital. Here, students will access the three surgical rooms, an intensive care unit room and a labor and delivery room. From there, variegated gray carpet leads guests toward professional conference rooms, study spaces and classrooms, including one smart classroom with a virtual reality system.

The facility has one pseudo apartment — including running water — for students to do risk assessment for falls or other potential patient injuries, as well as discharge planning. Rotier said. In another part of the center, a clinic with five patient exam rooms will hold nursing simulations.

The Ziemer Clinical Simulation center has three skills labs where students will learn to work with medications, including IVs, catheters, wound care, lift equipment and ambulation aids.

“We recognize that clinical learning is an important part of students’ learning and is different from simulation,” College of Nursing Dean Kim Litwack said. “This center and simulations will help augment that learning by letting students learn how to do high-risk procedures in a low-risk environment. It’s about developing and building essential critical thinking skills.”

$1 million donation

In 2015, three-time UWM alumnus and former CEO and president of Harley-Davidson James Ziemer and his wife, Yvonne, donated $1 million in support of UWM’s College of Nursing. The gift was meant to strengthen the school’s capacity to address Wisconsin’s nursing shortage.

Wisconsin could be short more than 6,000 nurses in the workforce by 2025, according to Administrators of Nursing Education of Wisconsin. Building public-private relationships to create “Grow Our Own” programs is an essential step to addressing the state’s nursing shortage, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s 2022 Workforce Report.

The Ziemer Simulation Center has been in the works for about 15 years, Litwack said. Dean emeritus Sally Lundeen, who retired in 2016, led the charge to build a “real world,” medical-grade clinical simulation center.

“Our old facilities did not adequately match what our students will experience in clinical practice , so we needed to upgrade our learning facilities to match the workforce environment,” Lukaszewicz said.

Program highly ranked

The goal is to improve the program and give students the best education possible, she added. In 2022, U.S. News & World Report ranked UWM’s bachelors, master’s and doctor of nursing practice programs in the top 15% in the nation.

Nursing instructors are excited to bring students into these experiential learning spaces at the Ziemer Simulation Center.

“This center will create interdisciplinary work opportunities, not just for nursing but, eventually, all health sciences majors, which is exciting,” Litwack said. “We are really working to create more hands-on learning and working opportunities for our students.”

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