Simulator helps in-demand nursing students prepare during pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The pandemic has hit nursing schools as hard as it has many other businesses.

But at a time when nurses are in extremely high demand, the mission to train new healthcare workers is more important than ever.

That's why East Coast Polytechnic Institute has come up with a way to enhance learning as nursing students wait for training at hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes during the pandemic.

It's called eHospital, and while it's not the same as hands-on experience with patients, ECPI says it has made the simulator as realistic as possible.

According to Jessica Hannah, who is studying at ECPI to become a licensed practical nurse, "It's a lot easier for nursing students to learn the importance of what they're doing without actually putting someone in danger."

Hannah, who is a nurse's assistant, told ABC11 that ECPI's eHospital prevents wasted time when pandemic safety procedures have limited the number of slots available to students at hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.

"We're allowed to continue on with the program to get the hours that are required without having to wait for safety precautions to be lifted for us to be allowed back into clinical settings," she said.

Maason Polite, another LPN student, echoed Hannah's sentiments about eHospital saying, "As far as answering questions and learning how these patients react to how you take care of them, it was, it was like a real scenario, you know, a very, very real scenario."

Polite decided when he got out of the military in late 2019 to become a nurse.

He, too, is studying at ECPI's Raleigh campus.

"Right now I feel like it's a very, very great time to become a nurse; you're coming to help people," Polite said.

And nurses, already in high demand before the pandemic, are even more sought after now.

"So, it's important for us to get safe and effective nurses out into the community so we can take better care of our community, and we're trying to streamline that process," said Joanne Snow, an instructor at ECPI's nursing college, who is still doing a lot of her teaching remotely.

According to Snow, ECPI's eHospital will continue to be a valuable tool even after the pandemic ends.

"That will make them even more effective in the community with the changes that we are seeing in healthcare. It will supplement their learning with the hands-on in the, in the labs," she said.

Snow, Polite, and Hannah are all encouraging anyone who has been laid off or rethinking their career during to the pandemic to give serious consideration to nursing, a job that's not only in high demand but rewarding.
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