Learning By Doing Never Ends

cartledge-beccaGuest Column by: Becca Cartledge, Instructor & Clinical Learning Centers Coordinator, Faith Community Nurse Educator, School of Nursing

For nursing students at the University of Indianapolis, the bridge between the classroom and clinical practice extends beyond patient care and bedside manner.

University of Indianapolis’ nursing program has a proud tradition of community partnerships that offer students opportunities to develop skills and knowledge that can’t be taught in the classroom. This experiential learning has broadened to include Interprofessional (IPE) simulations and international service-learning trips, as well as more hours dedicated to capstone experiences.

The Fall 2015 opening of the four-story UIndy Health Pavilion, the home for the University’s academic and community wellness programs, expanded the Simulation Center. Every semester includes at least one Simulation Center experience, allowing nursing students to critically synthesize what they learn in the classroom while building confidence in their professional skills. The faculty prepare an annual, multi-patient IPE simulation for 50-70 students that starts on an athletic field, transports patients via ambulance to the simulated emergency department and requires nurses to stabilize the patient.

International service-learning experiences require the voluntary commitment of all those involved: Faculty must seek community partnerships and opportunities; organizations must be committed to engaging students; and students need to take initiative, make decisions and be willing to learn from their mistakes.

As an educator, there is no greater blessing than witnessing the transformations of students as they grow personally, professionally and spiritually through these hands-on projects. Tangible experiences make the nursing profession real rather than something that comes from a textbook. Even more, students take with them the ability to connect with patients and develop relationships. UIndy students emerge as better caregivers through these rewarding, learning experiences.