Southwest Florida nursing school turns to simulation to overcome a national shortage

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney
Published: Updated:

No fewer than six nurses in training crowded around Carl Shapiro, a travelling salesman from Chicago.

“Code Blue! Code Blue!” one yelled from his room.

For the next several minutes, they worked to do CPR, applied shock to his heart and eventually stabilized him.

‘What happened? My chest hurts,” he asked.

The entire scenario looked, felt and sounded very lifelike except for one minor detail: Carl Shapiro is not a real person.

He’s one of several high fidelity patient simulators in use at Florida SouthWestern’s College of Nursing simulation lab in Collier County.

The simulators are helping solve a crisis seen at nursing at medical schools across the country.

“Most nursing programs and most (hospital training) facilities, like acute care are going more toward simulation,” said Hope Goodwin, a nursing professor at FSW.

Across the country there is a shortage of critical training space for nursing and medical schools.

According to a 2014 study by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, U.S. Nursing schools turned away more than 68,000 qualified applicants due in part to a lack of actual clinical training space.

Meantime, nursing professions are still in high demand according to Southwest Florida hospital administrators.

“(We) definitely (need) ICU and OR nurses. We have challenges filling those positions and we have challenges filling medical-surgery nurses and ER nurses as well,” said Jill Gaffoli, human resources director for Physicians Regional Healthcare System.

Gaffoli said they’ve utilized the program at FSW through tuition reimbursement positions to help fill those roles.

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