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Gaming Technology Improves Learning for Nursing Students

Sam Blomberg, left, demonstrates the new virtual reality system while Cameron Heikkinen views the exercise on the computer. Patrick Sweeney photo.

Sam Blomberg, left, demonstrates the new virtual reality system while Cameron Heikkinen views the exercise on the computer. Patrick Sweeney photo.

Boise State’s School of Nursing and Department of Computer Science teamed up to present a new virtual reality system for medical training. The system uses Oculus Rift and a custom haptic (manipulation through touch) system similar to popular video game technology to give nursing students practice on common medical procedures.

The system was created by a development team headed by Anthony Ellertson, associate research professor in the Department of Computer Science, in conjunction with the College of Innovation and Design and the Division of Research and Economic Development.

Allowing nursing students to realistically work with patients and equipment in a virtual environment promises to significantly impact how nursing and medical training are carried out in both higher education and clinical institutions.

Butt_Ann“It used to be we had more time at the bedside, but now patients have shorter hospital stays and there are fewer clinical opportunities,” said Ann Butt, clinical assistant professor of nursing. “So a lot of clinical training is being replaced with simulations.”

The new wearable technology enables a student to see and interact with (touch, hold or grip) objects in the virtual environment, allowing for complex simulations with significant cost savings compared to more standard training.

Those often involve using special testing equipment or medical manikins, which are very expensive. A simulation manikin, for instance, can cost more than $15,000. In contrast, the virtual reality technology costs about $1,800 per player, and new “games” can be created in four to six months.

The simulation walks students through a virtual environment and scores them on how well they complete a series of tasks, including sterilizing their environment, as well as on how quickly they complete them.

While the system will initially be used to train students in a single medical procedure, it could eventually be expanded to include medication error training or situations where medical teams from several disciplines work together in a simulated Code Blue emergency.

School of Nursing Faculty Publishes Opinion on Vaccinations

Pamela StrohfusPamela Strohfus, associate professor in the School of Nursing, published a guest opinion in the Idaho Statesman on Feb. 8. Strohfus was able to give first person insight into the vaccine debate since she has provided care for people who have suffered from, and therefore been exposed to, preventable diseases.

Strohfus recognizes how far we have come as a society in preventing diseases through vaccines. But in recent years, parents have decided not to vaccinate their children, risking exposing themselves and others to these preventable diseases. Lower vaccination rates have resulted in a number of outbreaks of more than one of these preventable diseases.

Currently, providing an updated vaccination history is not required when enrolling into Idaho universities, and Strohfus is pushing for The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that meningitis vaccinations be routine for college students. She believes that “preventable disease protection of college students is important, and routine vaccines should be required upon college entry, including both meningitis vaccines.”


Nursing Students Volunteer at Idaho Special Olympics MedFest

Boise State Nursing Students MedFest 2015Students from the School of Nursing volunteered at the Idaho Special Olympics MedFest held at Timberline High School on Jan. 29. MedFest is a health screening event for Special Olympic athletes who participated in the 2015 State Winter Games in Sun Valley, Feb. 27 through March 1. Athletes from around Boise and as far away as Twin Falls participated in the health screening.

The students assisted with set-up and helped with health screenings for blood pressure, height and weight, medication risks, and vision. Students learned about the needs of Special Olympic athletes and efforts by the Idaho Special Olympics organizers to promote health and wellness among children and youth with intellectual disabilities by continuing to give them opportunities to develop physical fitness and wellness.

All of the nursing students involved in MedFest felt it was a positive experience for them as well as the athletes. Students involved in the event included Jan Woods, Ann Stookey, Aimee Hull, Tiffanie Berggren,  Rebecca Wood, Audrey Hult, Justin Mihkelson, Kara Edwards, Jennifer Florczyk, Julie Thorne, and Sara Gossi, along with assistant professor Mark Siemon.


Nursing Faculty Speak at First Forward Spring Welcome Reception

Pam Gehrke

Pam Gehrke

Pam Gehrke, associate professor in the School of Nursing, Denise Seigart, chair of undergraduate and MN/MS nursing programs, and Jaime Sand, interim director of interprofessional education for the College of Health Sciences and associate professor and co-chair in the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Community and Environmental Health, served as speakers for the First Forward Program on Jan. 15.

Denise Seigart

Denise Seigart

The First Forward Peer Education Program was created by Multicultural Student Services. It’s aim is to help first-generation college students develop the skills and relationships they will need to thrive throughout their postsecondary education. Through First Forward, faculty and peer educators work to familiarize students with campus culture and the resources that exist for student utilization, as well as provide special programs to help promote individual success at home, in the classroom, and on the job market.

Jaime Sand

Jamie Sand

Gehrke, Seigart, and Sand spoke primarily about being first generation college students themselves, what that experience was like, the things they learned during their first year of Undergraduate education that they wished they’d known sooner, and gave them tips on how to be successful in their pursuit of a college education.

Spot Light on Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and even young people are at risk and have been diagnosed with melanoma. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the main cause of skin cancer. UV radiation can come from the sun, tanning booths or sun lamps. UV radiation also causes wrinkles and other skin changes.

Skin cancer can be prevented! If detected early, and treated early, skin cancer can usually be cured. Boise State University is proud to participate in Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. Health Services is partnering with the School of Nursing in running an awareness campaign.

“The Burning Question is: What will you do to prevent skin cancer?”

Try these simple steps to protect your skin:

  • Minimize sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm
  • Apply SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, every 2 hours, and there is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen
  • Cover up with long sleeves and a hat
  • Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps
  • Check your skin once a month for changes

* The School of Nursing and Health Services are sponsoring a free skin cancer “Spot Check” by a dermatologist from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. on March 12 in the SUB Lounge. Please stop by! *


New Open School Chapter of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Proposed for Boise State

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) held its first Open School Chapter meeting at 6 pm on Wednesday, Jan. 28 in the Student Union Building’s Bergquist Lounge.

An IHI Open School Chapter is a face-to-face, interprofessional group. It brings students from different health professions programs together through a shared interest in learning about quality improvement and improving care for patients. IHI Open School Chapters exist on university campuses or in health care organizations, creating a forum for like-minded students and residents to interact and help each other gain skills to improve care.

The IHI chapter meeting reflects the new initiatives in the College of Health Sciences. The College is currently encouraging students to interact with peers and faculty from other disciplines as part of the curriculum in the college. Interprofessional courses and projects are interspersed throughout the college’s course offerings and the number of interprofessional encounters is expected to increase as more faculty develop interprofessional educational experiences and implement them as part of their courses.

The event was organized by Mark Siemon, assistant professor at the School of Nursing, to increase awareness of the IHI Open School Chapters, and to work with students on the development of an IHI Open School Chapter at Boise State University. The students who attended the meeting provided feedback on how to increase participation in future IHI Chapter events including: incentives to increase participation, incorporating into course curriculum, increasing marketing and promotion of the chapter, mass emails to students about future events, having more professors involved and talking about the IHI Chapter in classes, determine scope and target audience for the chapter, developing a Facebook page for the chapter to promote events, finding a student project lead, encouraging involvement through professional organizations, movie night showing a healthcare related film, and reaching out to District Health Departments. All of the students felt an IHI Chapter at Boise State University would provide more opportunities for students from different programs to learn about how to improve our current healthcare system using tools and resources developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Siemon has submitted an application to IHI for the creation of an Open School Chapter at Boise State. Siemon is collaborating with Jaime Sand and Sarah Toevs, faculty in the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Community and Environmental Health, Max Veltman, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, and Jody Lester, associate professor and chair in the Department of Respiratory Care on the development of an interprofessional Finishing Foundations 400 course for Health Science majors. The course uses the IHI Open School courses in patient safety, improvement capability, quality, cost, and value, person- and family-centered care, triple aim for populations, and leadership, along with team based case studies to promote student learning about the triple aim of healthcare reform, which includes improving the patient experience of care, improving populations, and reducing the per capita cost of health care.

Applications for Fall 2015 Due March 1, 2015

Fall 15 Application form BS Program

School of Nursing Faculty Receives Advocate Award from Education Management Solutions

Bunderson_BeckyBecky Bunderson was recently recognized with the Advocate Award by Education Management Solutions (EMS) for her role in advocating learning through simulation. Bunderson received the award on Jan. 5 at the International Society for Simulation in Healthcare Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

EMS is an industry pioneer in simulation-based solutions for healthcare training environments ranging from clinical simulation management software and hardware to counselor education. They serve as the driving force behind numerous consumer-centered innovations that continue to move the clinical simulation market forward with breakthrough technologies.

Each year, EMS nominates three individuals who work in businesses employing EMS products across the nation who are pioneering advocates in clinical simulation education. The nominees are then voted on by EMS customers, all of whom are simulation specialists.

Bunderson holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Washington State University in Nursing, and a Master of Science degree from Boise State University with an emphasis in Educational Technology and is currently the Director of the College of Health Sciences Simulation Center.

School of Nursing Graduates Rank Highest in Idaho NCLEX Passing Rate

Last year, out of every baccalaureate program in Idaho, Boise State had the highest passing rate, at 93.5 percent, for first time exam takers of the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). NCLEX is an examination administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing that determines if it is safe for graduated nursing students to begin practice as an entry-level nurse.

While nursing school exams are knowledge-based, the NCLEX-RN tests application and analysis using the nursing knowledge learned in school. Graduates are tested on how they can use critical thinking skills to make nursing judgments.

Since 2008, Boise State first time exam takers have continually passed above the Idaho average and only once fell below the national average of 89.6 percent. Overall, Boise State students have been doing well on the exam, scoring better than 92 percent.

Luther Raechal Gains Recognition as a Distinguished Certified Healthcare Simulation Operations Specialist

Raechal_LutherLuther Raechal, professional staff  in the School of Nursing, has become one of only 21 people in the world to receive a Certified Healthcare Simulation Operations Specialist (CHSOS) certification.

In order to be eligible to receive a CHSOS certification, individuals must: participate in healthcare simulation in an operations role; have focused simulation expertise about  learners in undergraduate, graduate, allied health, or healthcare practitioners; have a bachelors degree or equivalent experience; and have two years of experience in a healthcare simulation operations role. Successful certification involves completion of an online application, submission of three references, and successfully passing a standardized national exam.

“The Operations Specialists are as varied and unique as the centers who employ them. Some have titles that include Simulation Technicians, Simulation Technology Specialists, and Simulation IT Specialists. Regardless of the title, the growing field of simulation operations is the result of the increasing demands for skills, knowledge and abilities to meet the operational needs of busy simulation centers and labs. The CHSOS communicates to current and future employers that they have the best that this field is offering to them,” said H. Michael Young, chair of the CHSOS subcommittee. These first individuals who have received this distinction have demonstrated the knowledge and skills required to support and deliver quality healthcare simulations.

The new CHSOSs come from Israel, Qatar, and the United States. With this CHSOS certification, Raechal will receive formal professional as well as international recognition of his specialized knowledge, skills, abilities, and accomplishments in simulation operations. It also confirms his commitment to continued professional development and lifelong learning.

Raechal holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point in biology with minors in Chemistry and Resource Management. He has worked at The Missouri Botanical Garden and the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii as well as St. Louis University, Washington University, Monsanto, and a regional hospital. He is currently a simulation technician for the School of Nursing.