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Simplify your Nursing Lab Workload with Reusable Resources

How often do you end up staying late at work to prep for that big lab or complex simulation…just like you did last semester? And maybe the semester before now that you think about it. Maybe you’re a team of one and even setting up for smaller sessions takes more time than you have.

In this article, we'll share some tips about reusable resources that will save you time and improve consistency. Adopt the ones that work for you, take inspiration from others, and even create your own shortcuts!

Tip #1: Videos can be lifesavers.

Besides saving time, videos provide consistency. All the students are getting the same message regardless of the cohort or educator leading the session. Posting videos in an accessible location lets students watch as many times as needed.

Imagine having a Lab Space Orientation Video. Think of the hours saved each semester not having individual small group orientations? Jump right to a Q & A and then start the actual work in the lab.

Simulation is a new experience for your novice learners.  Even if they aren’t new to sim, they may be new to your way of doing things.  Providing an Orientation to Simulation Video is an easy way to decrease learner anxiety about the unknown, save time in your pre-brief, and provide a memorable list of expectations for your visual learners. Record simulated learners going from the prebrief through the simulation experience and the debrief session.  Highlight key elements with narration and text over the video.

 Have you ever purchased a new piece of expensive equipment and found yourself training the same people over and over how to use it? Or training only one person at a time? Create a quick How-to Equipment Video to use in place of your valuable time when someone comes and asks “can you quick show me how this works? Keeping everyone in the know on how to use equipment helps maximize the return on investment and prevent damage! It also reduces calls on your day off when there is an *emergency* need to use a piece of equipment. 

In academia there is a “rinse and repeat” aspect to the flow of your calendar. Hospital-based simulations may have a go toset of cases for new employee orientation (NEO). If you know that you will always be taking care of Mrs. Smith on Week 7 each semester or on day 3 of NEO, why not record a Pre-brief/Patient Presentation Video? Play this at the start of the session or assigned it ahead of time. If you are super creative, you could even include a scene that led up to the patient being hospitalized.

 Download a copy of our free Video Orientation Checklist to get you started on topics to include in your video.

Click here to read our blog post on how to create DIY videos. 

Tip #2: Put your manikins to work!

Did you know your manikins can do a lot more than just quietly wait to be your sim patients?  They are your lab assistants and they never need a paycheck. Create and save a Manikin Orientation Scenario in which the manikin demonstrates its own features.  Include automatic transitions triggered when the learners do something (such as a pulse check). Insert pre-recorded audio files so the manikin can narrate an orientation to each feature that learners can practice (auscultation, pulses, etc.).  

There is a Laerdal Sim Man 3G orientation you can ask your rep for. You can program an orientation for any manikin you have and customize it to your type of learners. This scenario is also an easy and memorable way to give tours to financial donors and other VIPs visiting your sim space. I had one manikin “assistant” in a wheelchair to give tours of the sim center. As we walked along, it verbally highlighted the history of our program and pointed out some of the unique training tools available. 

Tip #3: Leverage Laminated Lists

Save some trees and your time with laminated student checklists. Lists can be placed at Skills Stations to help in the recall of the critical elements.  Remind students how to Clean Up the station (what to save and repackage, how to dispose of sharps, etc.) with a list on the reverse side.

Engaging observers can be a challenge. But a list of specific things to look for while they are in the Observer Role turns passive “watchers” into active learners. Include elements of safety, communication, patient education, SBARR, and critical elements of a particular skill. Ask them to share the findings during simulation debriefing.

Go beyond learner checklists for skills and sim observations. Why not use them for Student Lab Assistant Responsibilities? Catalog what needs to be done while helping in the lab and the things to clean up at the end of the day. 

Laminated Set-up Checklists are handy in case someone needs to set things up in your absence.  If you have a list of what needs to go where, your learners will have a better experience and your colleagues will appreciate all the behind the scenes work you do. 

Tip #4: Set Patients Up for Success.

Remember Mrs. Smith from Week #7? She works hard for your students and deserves her very own Tote of Reusable Supplies that are tucked away for every Week 7 on your calendar.  

Buy Oriental Trading DIY Snap Bracelets and make your own Patient ID bands.  No more cutting off hospital bands and trying to tape them back together to save money.  Your time is too valuable. 

Purchase or make your own sturdy and reusable silicone wounds that can be applied in seconds. Keep these in your Tote of Reusable Supplies and write on your setup check list where the wound should be placed. If you need to add dressings with drainage, keep those in the tote too.  Use no-food supplies to mimic the drainage (make-up, baby powder, silicone, etc.). You don’t want an infestation of bugs! Add her clothing, wig, and room accessories to the tote and tape the checklist on top.  Label the front of the tote with “Mrs. Smith Week 7 and the course number for easy reference. You’re all set for the next Week 7.

Reusable resources stretch your time and budget. The resources offer peace of mind to you and the person covering for you when you will be away. And learners are rewarded with consistency and structure, decreased anxiety, and increased engagement.