This story is part of an ongoing series about the BYU College of Nursing’s Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center and the College’s constant efforts to update it.
An Arab proverb states that there is always something to learn from experimentation. Assistant teaching professor Debra Wing and her husband found that true during their recent mission in South Korea, and it may be applicable for students with whom Wing works in the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center (NLC).
As a long-time nurse and College of Nursing employee, Wing has never been a stranger to the medical world. However, a mission in a foreign country definitely offered opportunities for experimentation in unfamiliar circumstances. She accepted the challenge, and as a result of her willingness to try something new, she had unexpected results.
“I have not felt the same spirit of care until serving in a mission,” Wing says. That spirit was developed as she worked with LDS soldiers and their families that many times were facing intense challenges in life. One blessing of the experience was that she developed more sensitivity for nursing students trying to stay on top of a rigorous curriculum.
Another benefit was the opportunity to work in a local clinic where she taught staff about simulation. This was a close-to-home topic, since much of Wing’s work, as well as the nursing curriculum, centers around the simulation program in the NLC.
“Taking those skills and applying them in Korea in the facilities where I worked, I helped the public health nurses with several programs, but a lot of them were really based on simulation principles,” she says.
Teaching Korean medical workers and teaching BYU students are not completely different experiences. For some BYU students, working with manikins while being taped can seem daunting. However, like Wing and those she taught in Korea, sometimes students have to be willing to experiment with new ideas in a new environment in order to benefit from the program.
According to Wing, it brings tremendous benefits.
“It’s an opportunity for students to practice in a safe environment in context of what they’re learning,” Wing says. “It also gives them the opportunity to see experiences that they may not have in the hospital.”
Wing thinks that students who overcome the hurdles of engaging in different activities in the NLC are able to better appreciate the teaching there.
“I think that as they participate more, students do understand how valuable the simulated experiences are for them,” Wing says. “It’s a much more effective way for students to learn than to read chapters in a book, listen to lectures, and go to a hospital and hope that you’re doing everything that you’ve read in the book or heard in the lecture.”
Wing now plans to keep helping the program expand as she applies the insights developed in her mission. With luck, students will continue to have the same vision of their learning and growth potential.
“It’s really exciting to see how it has grown as far as the use,” Wing says. “I don’t know that I see things that need to be improved, particularly as much as I see that we have expanded so much, and that we have more people working now in simulation, and I see the potential that we have for continued growth.”