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UNLV camp aimed at shedding light on nursing careers

Several teenagers gathered around a lifelike manikin lying in a hospital bed to learn how to use a stethoscope to listen for abnormalities in its heart or lungs.

The lesson July 18 at the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas was part of UNLV’s first summer nursing camp.

Twenty-seven incoming high school juniors and seniors — as well as class of 2019 graduates — participated in the weeklong camp. Students were from all over the Las Vegas Valley, as well as Washington and Minnesota.

UNLV School of Nursing officials said they want to increase the visibility of the nursing program, so they created a camp geared toward teenagers who are making decisions about college and a career. It comes as the university is expanding the number of slots for incoming nursing students.

Tricia Gatlin, associate dean for academics at the School of Nursing, said she hoped camp participants would gain a clear sense of whether they’re interested in a nursing career.

She also wanted teenagers to understand the broad realm of nursing, including the role of nurses as innovators, scientists and caregivers, she said.

“Nursing is more than you ever possibly thought it could be,” Gatlin said.

Camp activities included CPR and first aid training, ACT preparation, an art project in which students expressed what nursing means to them, acting out simulations of possible scenarios that would break HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) health information privacy rules, a tour and job shadow at University Medical Center, “Stop the Bleed” training and a presentation by UNLV admissions.

For 17-year-old Anabelle Carino, who’s going into her senior year at Liberty High School in Henderson, the highlight of the camp was shadowing a nurse at UMC. She was also excited to see an operating room and learn about technological advances.

“We were able to see the ins and outs of things we didn’t think we’d be able to see,” she said.

Before the camp, Carino wasn’t sure if she wanted to go into nursing, but now she’s more confident in her path.

John Patriarca, 18, who graduated from Chaparral High School in east Las Vegas this spring, said he learned nurses “do way more than take care of patients.”

Next summer, UNLV hopes to add a second weeklong session to the camp, Gatlin said, so more students can participate.

Practicing nursing skills

Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas, which opened a decade ago, is a 31,000-square-foot facility at UNLV’s Shadow Lane Campus. It’s used by the UNLV School of Nursing, Nevada State College School of Nursing and UNLV School of Medicine.

Through simulation, students can practice in an environment where if they make a mistake, there’s no harm.

The center has manikins that are realistic depictions of patients, with a pulse, heart and lung sounds, and the ability to speak and simulate giving birth.

On July 18, teenagers rotated among stations with activities led by UNLV nursing students. A large room was equipped with rows of hospital beds separated by curtains, which were left open that day.

Lessons included how to take vital signs such as blood pressure, proper hand washing, how to put on personal protective equipment, using a simulator to learn basic life support, a simulated ultrasound of a liver and kidneys, suture and staple removal, and how to use assistive devices such as a lift to get a patient out of a hospital bed.

At the ultrasound station, a Clinical Simulation Center employee showed two teenage girls how Doppler ultrasound works by placing the transducer on the inner side of her left wrist.

As they watched the monitor, the students’ faces lit up. “Woah,” one girl said.

Expanding the nursing program

Historically, the UNLV School of Nursing — which has been in existence for 55 years — brought three 48-student cohorts into the program each year, for a total of 144 students.

Last year, the school had 56 incoming students per cohort. And for the upcoming school year beginning in late August, the program will increase its capacity again: 72 students per cohort, for a total of 216 annually.

Some students who apply for UNLV’s nursing program are eligible, but aren’t able to enroll due to a limited number of clinical placements, Gatlin said. By expanding the number of slots, she said, it will allow more students to enter the program and they’ll in turn work to “increase the health of Nevadans.”

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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