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Innovative ASU nursing center doubles in size

Innovative ASU nursing center doubles in size.
Students get hands-on clinical experience with minimal risk.
January 6, 2017

At facility, students get hands-on clinical experience with minimal risk because patients are either actors or mannequins

In learning, practice makes perfect. In learning health care, it’s best if that practice doesn’t put patients at risk.

That’s the idea behind ASU’s 15-year-old Simulation and Learning Resources Center, where College of Nursing and Health Innovation students get hands-on clinical experience with minimal risk because the patients are either actors or uncannily lifelike mannequins.

The center’s method has been so successful that it recently expanded by 40,000 square feet — doubling its previous space. “And we’re not done yet,” said center co-founder Beatrice Kastenbaum.

Kastenbaum, clinical associate professor, said the simulation learning method is invaluable for students and community members, who later benefit from more experienced nurses and doctors. Without it, she said, students must rely solely on live experience in settings where they’re only allowed to observe.

Using actors and mannequins, said Bertie Estrada, clinical assistant professor and simulation nurse specialist at the center, allows students “to make mistakes without repercussions.”

On Friday, Estrada joined fellow CONHI faculty and colleagues at the Downtown Phoenix campus for an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Simulation and Learning Resources Center representatives celebrate with ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation Dean Teri Pipe (center) at the grand opening Friday that marked a 40,000-square-foot expansion on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

The facility now accommodates four simulation suites with nine patient rooms and six clinic rooms, four skills labs, a health assessment lab and a computer library.

At the ceremony, CONHI Dean Teri Pipe thanked former director Ruth Brooks and Kastenbaum, who together founded the center.

It was their advocacy, Pipe said, that led to the creation of “this amazing place [that exists] with the health and well-being of our community in mind” and helps students “emerge with excellence in their career.”

Pipe also thanked the many benefactors present, “without whose philanthropic donations this would not be possible.”

The expansion began in June, but center director Margaret Calacci — who took over in July — said it had been almost 10 years coming.

Calacci said that it is her goal “to continue to prepare students for a career in health care with this state-of-the-art facility, which provides an environment where they can develop clinical thinking and reasoning through safe practice.”

Among the added features are a range of different types of care environments: traditional doctor and hospital rooms as well as an apartment-like setting, where students can get a feel for what it’s like to give in-home care.

Within those environments, students can hone their skills by providing care for medical mannequins that exhibit “pretty much everything you’d want to monitor on a patient,” according to Shannon Brock, a simulation nurse specialist at the center.

Students can take the mannequins’ blood pressure and temperature, and measure their heart rate and oxygen saturation levels, among other things.

The mannequins — which can blink, breathe and talk — are controlled via computers by clinicians.

In other settings, such as a generic doctor’s office, students can interact with live patients in the form of actors, who are either community volunteers or ASU acting students.

Nursing grad student Lillian Chang said the opportunity to get “immediate feedback from an actual, live patient” in a safe, controlled environment is both unique and extremely helpful for students.

CONHI alum Kurt Brownsburger, who now works at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, had attended a few different schools before coming to ASU, where he spent several hours training at the Simulation and Learning Resources Center.

He noticed a huge difference from what was “almost purely lecture-based” learning to the center’s “much more integrative model.”

“It’s very realistic,” he said, “and you really get to see what works and what doesn’t, while being free to make mistakes. You can reset a mannequin; you can’t reset a human.”

Top photo: ASU alumni Norine Heinrich (center) and Marissa Starks-Banh (right) get a demonstration of mannequin "Victoria" by ASU clinical faculty Leann Dykstra during the grand opening of the Simulation and Learning Resources Center on Friday. The center has undergone a 40,000-square-foot expansion, doubling its previous size. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

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Q&A: How serious an adversary is Russia?

January 8, 2017

Tensions over Russia have flared in the U.S. for weeks: An aide to President Vladimir Putin was among a handful of Russians added to a U.S. blacklist Monday. It came days after an intelligence report was released, accusing Russia of interfering with the U.S. presidential election. Outgoing President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has levied sweeping sanctions against Russia, expelling diplomats and closing compounds. 

An ASU expert, professor Mark von HagenMark von Hagen is a professor of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences., said the recent news shows that U.S.-Russian relations are at their worst point since the Cold War.   

portrait of Mark Von Hagan

ASU professor Mark von Hagen

In an effort to better understand Russia, its motivations and its potential impact as an adversary or friend to the U.S., ASU Now spoke with von Hagen, a professor of history and an expert on Russia, national politics and Russian civil-military relations.

Question: How would you describe present-day Russia under President Putin? 

Answer: Russia can be understood as an oligarchy where power is concentrated in an economic and power ministry set of elites, such as the Ministry of Interior, the Armed Forces and the FSB, formerly the KGB.

The oligarchy is managed by Vladimir Putin, with fewer and fewer institutional and social checks and balances since he came to power as president in 2000. Although there are regular elections and several parties that compete in those elections, there is little room for genuine opposition.

Governors are appointed by the president, the mass media are dominated by state agencies, and non-government organizations that investigate human rights abuses and state corruption are declared “foreign agents” and shut down.

Meanwhile, economic inequality is profound, with much of the country’s wealth concentrated in Moscow and Petersburg; and much of the rest of the country suffers from high rates of poverty, increasing substance abuse, especially alcohol, and brain drain, especially among young people and professionals. 

Q: How would you characterize its strength today, economically and politically? 

A: Russia has been described by President Obama as a regional power with nuclear weapons.

This reflects a recognition of Russia’s decline from its superpower status during the Cold War to a much-reduced economy and, until recently, with an armed force also in serious decline. Moreover, Putin’s government has failed to launch significant reforms to move Russia away from its oil and gas export-driven economy, so its economy has felt a great blow from the fall of oil and gas prices, much more than any sanctions imposed by the West. 

Russia is still adjusting to the loss of its superpower status, and its empire in Eastern Europe and what it calls the “near abroad.” These countries — including Ukraine, the Baltic states, Moldova and Georgia most particularly — feel themselves vulnerable to Russian pressures because, compared to them, Russia is indeed powerful and threatening.  

Q: How would you describe the relationship of Russia to the United States in the post-Soviet period?

A: Russian-American relations today are worse that any time since the late years of Brezhnev’s Soviet Union, when the U.S. protested against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan with a boycott of the Moscow 1980 Olympics and later joined with Pakistan to fund local fighters to dislodge the Soviet-supported government there. 

Though Putin was the first world leader to pledge support for President George W. Bush after 9/11, that relationship deteriorated after the Russian-Georgian war in 2008 and, most recently and most seriously, since anti-Russian protests in Ukraine in November 2013; the subsequent regime change in Ukraine that led to the pro-Russian president’s flight; the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea; and Russian support for the separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s domestic evolution toward an authoritarian police state and its foreign policy of neo-imperialism make any possible rapprochement of our two countries a very difficult challenge.  

Q: How unusual is it for an American president to express strongly positive views of Russia?

A: It is highly unusual.

The last and closest analogy is George Bush’s claim that he had seen into Vladimir Putin’s soul and found a good man and trustworthy partner. That didn’t go over well with many Cold War conservatives or Russia specialists.

But Donald Trump’s praise for an authoritarian leader of a country that has listed the United States and NATO as enemies in its military doctrine — and his disparagement of intelligence reports that allege Russian hacking into American elections — is unprecedented.

Communications coordinator , ASU Media Relations