Phoebe Prepares to Open New Simulation Center With Specialized Training for New Nurses

Staff Report From Albany CEO

Monday, May 18th, 2020

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, construction has continued on the new Phoebe Simulation and Innovation Center.  Equipment is being installed in the 22,000 square foot, state-of-the-art center on the fifth floor of Medical Tower II on Phoebe’s main campus, and the center will open soon.  “This center is an incredible investment in patient safety and workforce development.  Staff throughout our health system will utilize the center year-round for realistic training that will enhance the quality of care we are able to provide,” said Tracy Suber, Ed.D., RN, Phoebe Assistant Vice President of Nursing Education.  “It will also be a great benefit for our employees and will help us recruit and retain outstanding workers.”
The center will be the hub for a one-of-a-kind Nursing Simulation and Training Education Program (NSTEP) Phoebe developed to support new graduate nurses.  “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic limited clinical rotations for spring and summer nursing graduates, and they were unable to get all the hands-on training they need.  Our new center is ideal for cultivating supplemental learning.  Through NSTEP, new graduate nurses will begin their nursing career within a Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) that will provide hands-on simulation, didactic training and skills assessments on high-fidelity mannequins while engaging in observation and progressive unit assignments through preceptorship training,” Dr. Suber said.
To be eligible for NSTEP, nurses must graduate this spring or summer from a board-approved nursing education program, have a valid Georgia temporary permit to practice as a graduate nurse pending licensing exam results or Georgia RN license, officially accept an offer on a specific floor/unit with Phoebe Putney Health System and pass the NCLEX-RN within 90 days of NSTEP hire date.  “This really is an extraordinary step Phoebe is taking to ensure these young nurses have the skills and confidence they need to succeed.  The program will greatly benefit each nurse who takes part and will also certainly benefit our patients by ensuring they receive the quality care they expect and deserve,” said Evelyn Olenick, DNP, RN, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Chief Nursing Officer.
Phoebe recently hired Larecia Gill, PHD, RN, as the Phoebe Simulation and Innovation Center manager.  “Dr. Gill is uniquely qualified to lead this project and sustain excellent training programs.  She will focus on developing, delivering and evaluating best practices in simulation education for the Phoebe Family,” Dr. Suber said.
Dr. Gill is a former Phoebe nurse who returns to Phoebe after more than a decade in academia.  She holds a master’s degree in nursing education and completed her PhD in nursing last year.  Most recently, she served as the Associate Nursing Programs Director and Associate Professor of Nursing at Albany State University.  “I am thrilled to return to Phoebe, and I am especially excited for the unique opportunity to develop education programs at what will be one of the finest medical simulation centers in Georgia.  We are committed to enhancing the diagnostic and communication skills of our participants to ensure the safe delivery of care to patients at Phoebe, and we look forward to beginning our training classes in June,” Dr. Gill said.
The simulation center will employ the latest technology in high-fidelity medical mannequins.  It will contain multiple training rooms – including an operating/trauma room, a traditional hospital room, an intensive care unit room, and a labor and delivery suite which contains a neonatal intensive care unit – all set up to emulate the actual facilities in which Phoebe staff work.  “We’ll be able to do everything from allowing a novice nurse to practice inserting a peripheral intravenous line to simulating a difficult premature birth for an entire labor and delivery and NICU team. By allowing our staff to train using simulation, they are in a ‘safe’ environment that will help improve their clinical competency and confidence in delivering safe, quality healthcare which will improve patient safety and reduce healthcare costs,” Gill said.
Individual training scenarios will be developed to focus on numerous aspects of care, including lessons learned while caring for COVID-19 patients.  Trainees will be asked to think critically and act quickly during sessions that will be recorded.  An important part of the training will be the debriefing, where expert educators review the recorded scenario to reinforce what may have gone right or wrong to prevent errors in the future.