Simulation Bus used for training by international nursing students - VHA SimLEARN
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Simulation Bus used for training by international nursing students

By Janet Sprehe DNP, APN-BC, CVRN, RN-BC
Program Director of Simulations/REdI
Tampa VA Medical Center

TAMPA, Fla. – International collaboration brings health care providers with similar research interests and passions together to share talents and resources to help address mutual areas of concern. The James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital (JAHVH) and clinics has a mobile Simulation Bus that teaches facility staff and outside community agency staff about disaster preparedness, while it also informs the community how Veterans' hospitals can deploy their dual use vehicles (DUV) and utilize the vehicles in national emergencies.

This past spring semester, the University of South Florida (USF) College of Nursing had the opportunity to host 16 nursing students from Scotland. The sixteen nursing students were in their community nursing rotation and were excited to learn about America’s perspectives and cultures, as well as what drives them.

When the students were informed that the JAHVH had the mobile Simulation Bus, they asked if it could be brought to them while they were studying in the U.S. JAHVH happens to be located across the street from the USF College of Nursing. Antoinette Tall, RN, MSN and Carla Brunk, RN, MSN, are JAHVH simulation faculty and presented the idea. The opportunity was arranged for the nursing students. The Scottish students do have simulation training in their nursing curriculum, but they do not have a mobile simulation bus. The ability to see the variance of disaster response and capabilities of treating such triages from another country seemed to be inspirational.

Tampa’s “Sim Bus” is one of four Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS) buses Tampa has on location. The Sim Bus offers disaster preparedness education to nursing, medical and allied health colleges and universities, and reaches more than 1,000 participants annually. It also has been requested to be displayed at the MacDill Air Force Base air shows. Until someone is exposed to a real disaster, what they read in a book usually does not compare to what they see and remember to do. On the Sim Bus, there are seven mannequins that are moulages or made up to resemble various traumatic injuries people have encountered in an emergency or disaster.

“This was a perfect opportunity for the students and for our facility to exchange cultural similarities and explore the differences to emerge as an interconnected global avenue for future disaster education,” said Antoinette Tall University of South Florida Nursing Instructor and James A. Haley VA Simulation faculty.

From the seven mannequins on the bus, participants must choose which one is the first to go into the operating room and which is the first to receive a computerized axial tomography or CAT scan. On the DUV or Sim Bus, staff can perform surgery and perform various diagnostic exams in addition to transporting victims to medical evacuation areas. In the event of a real disaster, the Sim Bus can be converted to the DUV mode within an hour or two and be ready to report to any known real disaster by just removing the mannequins. Participants are given the history and what symptoms the mannequins are presenting so they can determine the triage color and interventions available on the bus that the victim may receive for the classified triage color. The Sim Bus has been used to teach at the USF College of Nursing and College of Medicine, South University College of Nursing, Concorde College of Allied Health, as well as the University of Tampa College of Nursing. The input from these international students will assist in planning future events.

The ability to offer the Scottish students the opportunity to participate in the disaster triage provided the JAHVH simulation faculty and staff learned about Scottish culture, as well as how the method of performing interventions and choosing the triage color varied somewhat. Students recognized and compared differences in nursing practice, nursing education, nursing values and health maintenance that influence one’s health status from a global perspective when studying abroad. Understanding how the emergency disaster system operates and what is available differs between countries, and thus offered the students a more cross-cultural environment of disaster preparedness.

All in all, Scottish Nursing students rated the experience as “outstanding” and requested the Sim Bus rotation be kept in the international nursing curriculum.

Antoinette Tall, RN, MSN, nurse educator, contributed to this article.


To learn more about simulation training, click here.
To learn more about SimLEARN, click here.