Fisher to Open New Interprofessional Simulation Center

March 14, 2022

A $500,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation will establish the Interprofessional Simulation Center (IPE Sim Center) at St. John Fisher College. The new laboratory will mirror health care practice settings where nursing and pharmacy students can engage in collective learning, professional role discovery, and skill development.

The IPE Sim Center will deepen the interprofessional partnership between the College’s Wegmans School of Nursing and Wegmans School of Pharmacy, preparing students at all degree levels to be more collaborative health care professionals and in turn better meet patient needs when they enter their chosen professions. Housed in the School of Pharmacy, the IPE Sim Center is slated to open in fall 2022.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation; it will help us broaden the simulation and inter-professional education experiences we deliver to our students,” said Dr. Tricia Gatlin, dean of the Wegmans School of Nursing and principal investigator (PI) on the grant. “It is so important that we graduate students who know how to communicate and work effectively on inter-professional teams; that is critical to the overall goal of having improved collaborative patient-centered care.”

More than a third of Fisher degrees conferred in 2020 were in the health professions, a consistently growing percentage of the student population. Fisher prepares the largest number of nurses in the region via its traditional baccalaureate degree program and a large percentage of advanced practice nurse practitioners into the regional and state-wide health care workforce. As the only pharmacy school in the area, Fisher deploys the largest number of pharmacists into Rochester and a large percentage across New York. Curriculum in both Schools focuses on developing the knowledge, skills, competencies, and art of delivering compassionate care to improve the health of all populations, including the most vulnerable. The IPE Sim Center will expand Fisher’s already robust health care interprofessional education and simulation-based learning (SBL) programs.

“We know that interprofessional collaboration in health care delivers the highest quality of care to patients while reducing costs and medical errors, among many other positive impacts,” said Dr. Christine Birnie, dean of the School of Pharmacy and co-PI on the grant. “IPE in health profession programs is critical to developing an understanding of the benefits of team-based approaches to patient care.”

Both Schools embed interprofessional training into its core coursework, bringing together nearly 200 nursing, mental health counseling, and pharmacy students annually for interprofessional training in how to best work with patients who require substance abuse screenings, interventions, and referrals to treatment. The training is funded thanks to grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Students across both nursing and pharmacy have also been engaging in interprofessional simulation activities in the Glover-Crask Simulation Center.  Housed in the Wegmans School of Nursing, the Sim Center has allowed nursing education to weave simulation-based learning intrinsically throughout curriculum, earning recognition in the field for excellence. Today, the Center runs six days a week facilitating between 1,100 and 1,300 nurse/patient encounters per semester for more than 100 students per week. The addition of the new IPE Sim Center will provide more opportunities for both pharmacy and nursing students to engage in additional activities across the professions. 

The new space will greatly expand simulation resources on campus. Four high-flex rooms can be easily adjusted to address simulation-based, interprofessional education; and a primary care lab will feature six hospital beds and an electronic health record system. The Center will also have a student debrief space; simulation control room for instructors; and a medication dispensing room. Finally, the Center will host virtual reality and 3-D medical printing capabilities and audio-visual equipment will be installed throughout the learning spaces to allow for capture, interactive learning, and instructor feedback.

“Our goal is to continuously advance and enhance the way we prepare the next generation of health care professionals,” said Gatlin. “The IPE Sim Center will provide Fisher with the much-needed additional space and resources to deliver on that goal.”

Funds from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation will also support the time and space for faculty and staff from each School to bring together the expertise of both curriculum and practice environments to create unique IPE simulation activities. Curriculum will build awareness, knowledge, and skills through an IPE code lab, acute care multi-patient simulation addressing medication safety and patient medication education needs, advanced practice IPE simulations, IPE simulations focused on substance abuse disorders, and electronic health care record education—all with an embedded focus on women’s health, trauma education, and serving diverse patients. Joanne Weinschreider, director of experiential learning in the School of Nursing and Matt Zak, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and assistant director of experiential education in the School of Pharmacy, who also served as co-PIs for the grant, will lead the curricular activities in the IPE Sim Center for their respective schools.

“In simulation-based learning, students can expand on knowledge gained in traditional coursework, strengthen clinical skills, and improve upon critical patient care competencies such as empathy and effective communication within a safe practice environment,” said Birnie. “We are grateful to the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for supporting our efforts to provide innovative learning environments for our students.”