Students practicing nursing simulation

Frequently Asked Questions

Simulation is a powerful tool for education and assessment for students working in medical fields. It bridges the gap between the theoretical skills students learn in class and their clinical practice. Because the simulation environment is safe, controlled and low-risk, students have greater opportunities to practice and learn from their mistakes.

Simulations allow students to:

  • Observe and take part in providing care for high-risk but low-volume experiences that they may not be able to witness in their clinical practice
  • Learn how to respond to simulations in a safe environment 
  • Feel prepared for all types of patient care when they arrive in a clinical setting

Research has shown that simulation has the ability to enhance active student learning and has long-term benefits for patient care, including reducing complications and shortening the length of hospital stays.

When classes are in session, the Open Skills Lab is open Monday through Friday.  

Fall 2020 Schedule 

  • Open Monday-Friday 8:00a.m.-4:00p.m.
  • Students must sign up for a practice slot via SignUp Genius

    *If you have questions regarding the Open Lab please email

*Please note: Open Lab hours may change during the course of a semester as the Open Lab may be utilized for Nursing Lab Class overflow. Students are encouraged to check the posted lab hours which can be found outside the Open Lab in the Health and Science Center (HSC), Room 2142.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are two nursing lab classrooms, one medical assisting lab classroom, an Open Practice Lab, a four-bed simulation hospital and a simulation center.  

  • The two nursing lab classrooms seat 20 students and have six beds with manikins in them.
  • The medical assisting lab has 24 computers and two physicians’ offices. 
  • The Open Practice Lab has eight beds with manikins and can seat 16 students.
  • The simulation hospital has four rooms with beds/manikins in them.
  • The simulation center consists of a physician’s office/nurse clinic, a home health apartment and a two-bed nursing home. 

Simulation Hospital, Health Science Center (HSC) 2145: This four-bed simulation hospital was renovated in mid-2012 using a classroom, a storage closet and a study nook. Opened in August 2012, it now provides simulated training to nursing students five days a week. Students take care of patients while instructors observe actions from behind one-way mirrored windows in the control room (observation room). Interactions can be videotaped and watched live by other participants and can also be played back during debriefing sessions.Highlights of HSC 2145 include the addition of a Pyxis medication dispensing system identical to what is used in area hospitals. High fidelity manikins include SimMom, who is able to simulate a live birth and also display complications such as a seizure and hemorrhage. Baby Hal is a newborn manikin who can turn blue, have seizures, cry and flail his arms and legs. All manikins in the simulation hospital are capable of displaying vital signs that can change based on the direction a scenario takes. HSC 2145 also includes a working nursing station and a 10-person conference room. 

Open Lab, Health Science Center (HSC) 2142: This is an eight-bed practice lab open to students from the ADN and CNA programs. The lab is generally open Monday to Friday and offers students an opportunity to practice skills on the manikins under the supervision of a lab assistant, who is a Registered Nurse. 

Health Science Center (HSC), Room 2141: This is a six-bed lab classroom. Faculty teach lab skills in three- and four-hour lab sessions. Students can utilize this time to practice multiple skills and then go to Open Lab if they desire more practice time. 

Health Science Center (HSC), Room 2139: This is a six-bed lab classroom. Faculty teach lab skills in three- and four-hour lab sessions. Students can utilize this time to practice multiple skills and then go to Open Lab if they desire more practice time. 

Simulation Center, Health Science Center (HSC) 2136: Renovated in summer 2013, it contains a fully functioning kitchen, living room, dining room/conference room. Combined, they make up an apartment to practice home health skills. It also contains a working nursing station and a two-bed nursing home. Students are able to practice giving care to the hospitalized patient and the home health patient. Centrally located is the observation room that overlooks all areas of this center. Instructors can observe student interaction from behind one-way mirrored windows. All areas of the Simulation Center can be videotaped and shown live on the monitor in the conference room, which seats 10.


It depends on the course, but most students will spend 25 percent of their time in simulated learning and 75 percent at a clinical site. The 25 percent time spent in simulated learning is considered a clinical day, and students will spend six hours in the simulation hospital or simulation center. Students must come prepared as if it is a true clinical day and as if they will take care of real patients. They prepare by researching assigned cases ahead of time and arrive at the Simulation Hospital for “report” at 9 a.m. or 3 p.m. depending on their shift time. They learn about the patient, his/her medications, history, and any other pertinent data. They then are assigned roles and take turns being the primary nurse in charge. Scenarios usually run approximately 20 minutes and then students have a 40-minute debriefing afterwards. Teachers may run two or three cases within the six-hour shift. 

The lab classes are three hours long and are separate from the simulation clinicals. Students rotate among various stations offering critical thinking exercises, which help apply knowledge to a hands-on skill. Students can then practice skills on the manikins. The lab classes offer opportunities to practice “mini-simulations” and students will test out on skills within a simulated exercise. 

We are producing nursing graduates who are better able to critically think. They are not so much task-oriented, but they can truly put the pieces of the puzzle together and determine what their patients require. We are promoting safety through simulation so employers are getting safer nurses. We cover all aspects of safety to include safe medication administration, appropriate nursing interventions, effective communication, and the promotion of teamwork. Today’s healthcare environment requires a graduate nurse who does more than just know information. Graduates must be able to safely synthesize and apply knowledge, be effective communicators and work collaboratively with other team members to optimize outcomes for their patients. More than ever, we believe simulation offers future employers better prepared nurses!

Yes! Many of our simulations utilize “standardized patients,” which are real people who have been instructed how to portray the patient and his/her health issues.

These participants are often prepped in moulage (stage makeup) and given a basic script to know how to respond as the students nurses interact with them. No acting background is required, but if you are looking to add acting experience to your resume this a great way to do it. If you are interested in participating in simulation in this capacity please contact the Simulation/Lab Manager, Melissa Ericson.

Simulations are part of a student’s learning experience in the nursing department. One of the goals of simulation is to create a safe learning environment for students to put their skills into practice and to make mistakes. To maintain this safe environment for students, simulations are only available to be observed by participants (i.e. the students, staff, and faculty participating in the simulation). We do not allow non-participant observers.


Contact Information

Nursing Lab Assistant Office
Health and Science Center (HSC), Room 2142
(630) 942-2569

Simulation Hospital
Health and Science Center (HSC), Room 2145
(630) 942-2539

Simulation Center
Health and Science Center (HSC), Room 2136
(630) 942-4258

Melissa Ericson, Nursing Simulation and Lab Manager
(630) 942-3938