DALLAS, Texas - A newly-expanded simulation lab offers invaluable experiences to Texas nursing students.
For soon-to-be nurse, Haleigh Tompkins, hands-on learning has become invaluable.
She's in her last year of school at the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing, which just doubled the size of its simulation center.
Jeanne Carey at the Louise Herrington School of Nursing Simulation Center, (LHSON Sim Center), explains "simulation allows us to control the situation completely".
The demand for more nurses is becoming harder to fill. Part of the problem is the lack of opportunities available for nursing students in clinical, real-life settings like a hospital.
Carey at LHSON Sim Center says, "there is no guarantee of exactly what kind of clinical experience every student is going to get. We bring them to the simulation lab and presto, change-o, they can experience a child with a seizure and we can do it over and over again".
Ongoing research at the school finds students who get extensive experience in simulation may perform better than peers who don't.
Enter virtual reality researcher doctor Kelly Rossler. She guides students through the technology, not only as a low-cost way to build their muscle memory for routine, get vital procedures, but to learn from them.
Dr. Kelly Rossler, assistant professor: "We're hoping to find, and what we are seeing as we are looking at new nurses who can go out and they are able to communicate as any professional team members. They have confidence in going into a clinical setting and their practice setting to be a member of that new team that they have entered into."
It's high-tech training for the next generation of nurses helping to fill a critical gap.
Tompkins said, "it's really nice to have the simulation center here to practice those skills because you may not get that exposure until you graduate as a new nurse".
The school expanded its skills labs and is designing new simulation spaces like a birthing suite, an operating room and a home health setting.