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TCHC Nursing Skills class held in collaboration with M-State

Photo provided Karen Fitzlaff, RN, listens for heart sounds on a baby mannequin as part of the hands-on mini skills simulation training.

Tri-County Health Care (TCHC) nurses participated in an advanced skills refresher class on Aug. 1-3 in the simulation lab on the M-State, Wadena campus. All nursing staff were required to attend. The class was a collaborative effort coordinated by Pat Johnson, RN nursing educator at TCHC, along with personnel from M State, Wadena nursing program. The program provided continuing educational opportunities for local nurses right here in Wadena.

"Continuing education is a vital part of keeping our nurses current and trained in updates that occur in nursing care standards," said Kathy Kleen, TCHC chief nursing officer. "With a growing emphasis on the health care budget, it is more important than ever to work together. The skills class is another example of the partnership between TCHC and M-State, Wadena."

The M State, Wadena staff provided nursing simulation supplies, coordination and instructors. In addition, a realistic infant mannequin, funded by the TCHC Foundation, was used as part of the nursing skills training. Nursing staff also benefitted from the local expertise of Tammy Hale, M-Sate nursing instructor, TCHC nurse.

"Nursing is a profession where education is ongoing; there are always new things to learn," said Hale. "The annual mini skills training provide 'real-life' and critical thinking experiences before a nurse uses the skills with actual patients."

Teams of nursing staff provided simulated patient care in pre-planned emergency scenarios. Simulation exercises were conducted using life-like mannequins that allowed nurses to feel a pulse and to hear breathing sounds.

"Simulation exercises are very valuable, they give our nurses an experience similar to real life they wouldn't get from a lecture or other classroom setting," said Kleen. "We practice a variety of scenarios ranging from pediatric patients to adults. It also requires the nurses to utilize their critical thinking skills and enhance their reaction skills."

This year, the simulation lab focused on Diabetic Ketoacidosis and nurses working as a team in these situations to give the patient the highest quality of care. "Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a potentially life-threatening complication in patients with diabetes," said Johnson. "With the growing number of diabetic patients and the amount of insulin pumps in our community, the nursing staff felt that this was an area in which additional training would be useful and increase the quality of diabetic care."

"It's been a privilege to collaborate with M-State, Wadena," said Kleen. "We enjoy having M-State Wadena nursing students completing their clinical experiences at TCHC. And, the nursing skills classes are another opportunity to work together to better serve the health care needs of our local residents."