RU Clinical Sim Center earns national accreditation


RU Clinical Simulation Director Cindy Cunningham and Frankie, a mannequin masking the symptoms of sickle cell anemia.

The Radford University Clinical Simulation Center (CSC) has been granted accreditation by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) and the Council for Accreditation of Healthcare Simulation Programs. The CSC is now one of 34 accredited simulation centers in the nation and the only one in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Clinical Simulation Centers provide a hands-on learning experience in a safe and realistic environment to produce nurses with enhanced critical thinking abilities, communication skills and collaboration experience. Students participate in the simulated experiences in realistic hospital, outpatient clinic or community environments to advance from simple to complex scenarios. Guided reflection is utilized in debriefing.

The high-fidelity simulations are conducted with interactive mannequins that are electronically controlled by computer programming and managed by a simulation educator to respond to student interventions.

The simulation educator creates a positive emotional climate and engaging learning environment in which participants feel at ease taking risks, making mistakes or extending themselves beyond their comfort zone. Simulation educators serve as guides and facilitators of student learning rather than lecturers.

The CSC at the RU Corporate Park serves students from the RU campus in the School of Nursing and those from New River and Wytheville community colleges. Another center, operated by RU, is located at the Roanoke Higher Education Center (RHEC). The RHEC site serves RU nursing students there as well as students from the Jefferson College of Health Services and Patrick Henry and Virginia Western community colleges. The CSC has a staff of eight faculty instructors and specialists.

"Accreditation is a signal accomplishment for both the university and the school of nursing," said CSC Director Cindy Cunningham. "Simulation is an affordable and effective way to prepare the region’s future health care professionals and to be acknowledged as a national leader is an honor."


Nursing students from RU and across the region deal with real-life health care situations from congestive heart failure to depression to pediatric appendicitis in the RU Clinical Simulation Center.  

The Centers provide students with clinical patient care hours at both the associate and bachelor’s degree levels. Nursing students get up to 20 percent of their required clinical hours in the lab. For licensure, nurses must have at least 500 hours in clinical settings prior to graduation.

In the CSC, students deal with real-life health care situations and then are debriefed after the fact using the video of the encounter. Students practice clinical reasoning using all three domains of learning: cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. In addition to mannequins, the center has a cast of people, called “standardized patients,” who play roles as caregivers and patients whom students will encounter as they transition into the health care workplace.

The CSC includes two exam rooms in a clinic or doctor’s office, a pediatric room, an OB/GYN room, a Med/Surg room, an ICU room and a three-to-five bed room with the latest in electronic medical records technology in which the students practice nursing fundamentals.

In 2014, over 1,250 students used the sites in almost 3,000 sessions for simulations of a range of medical events from congestive heart failure to depression to pediatric appendicitis. Boot camps for patient care development and application of nursing knowledge and skills at various levels are also a part of the Center’s regimen. The center works with campus departments such as the departments of Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Master of Occupational Therapy programs and with the American Heart Association. In addition, the center provides Old Dominion University Nurse Practitioner students simulation training sessions in partnership with Eastern Virginia Medical School.

Dec 9, 2014