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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University January 8, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 16
 
Nursing Labs Host a Hands-On Legislative Demonstration

In the School of Nursing's simulations lab, Diane Aschenbrenner introduces congressman-elect John Sarbanes to a computer-controlled manikin.
Photo by Ron Supan

By Kelly Brooks-Staub
School of Nursing

The School of Nursing's health care information technology initiatives and simulation labs were a highlighted stopover in a recent legislative visit to Johns Hopkins. On Dec. 18, as part of an insitutionswide briefing organized by the Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs, congressman-elect John P. Sarbanes of Maryland learned about the importance of using nursing informatics — both in nursing education and practice — to provide quality health care for the nation.

Also on Sarbanes' agenda were meetings with Martha Hill, dean of the School of Nursing; Michael Klag, dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health; Linda Robertson, vice president for government, community and public affairs; Richard Grossi, chief financial officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine; and Richard Roca, director of the Applied Physics Laboratory.

In the first of three lab-based demonstrations at the School of Nursing, Patti Abbott, an assistant professor, outlined the teaching opportunities offered by the Hopkins/Eclipsys Health Care Information Technology Lab. Johns Hopkins' School of Nursing is one of only five nursing schools in the country with this technology, which allows users to check a care plan, determine a course of action and record their findings or alter plans of care.

"Nursing technology can help reduce error and improve patient safety," Abbott said. "It can help nurses figure out how to do the right thing. But it is, unfortunately, underutilized in the United States."

In demonstrating the system, Krysia Hudson, a clinical instructor who works with students in the lab, pointed out to Sarbanes that the technology used at the school is more sophisticated than that available at most hospitals. "We teach the optimal," Hudson said, "and we hope that when our students leave the school, they will propagate the model wherever they work."

Simulations lab manager Diane Aschenbrenner added to the visit with two demonstrations featuring computer-controlled manikins. Shari Lynn showed how students learn to feel a pulse and listen to breathing and heart rate, and Nancy Woods and Elizabeth Jordan led Sarbanes through manikin simulations of pregnancy, labor and delivery.

Explained Abbott, "You can't teach someone how to play the piano by reading a book. Nursing education is the same. With the simulation technologies, what the students have heard about in lecture now comes to life. The school's technology initiatives allow Hopkins nurses to enter the workplace prepared, confident and capable of providing outstanding patient care."

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