News & Information

Sac State leads with cutting-edge nursing lab


Associate Professor of Nursing Debra Brady coordinated the Simulation User Network (SUN) conference at Sacramento State.

Sacramento State’s Nursing program has come a long way since its creation five decades ago. Nowhere is that progress more evident than in the state-of-the-art clinical simulation lab in the School of Nursing’s new facilities in Folsom Hall, the former CalSTRS building. That lab was the setting for the second annual Simulation User Network (SUN) held Wednesday, July 20.

The new simulation lab accelerates the nursing program’s ability to expand its number of students and the preparation they receive. It features human patient simulators — mannequins that mimic the symptoms and mannerisms of live patients. These life-size “patients” enable students to practice techniques and processes they’ve learned in the classroom in a hospital-type environment.

Specialized simulators replicate adult and infant emergencies, enabling students to better handle real, life-threatening clinical situations. Nursing student Chris Massaglia says the lab is like being in a real nurse’s station with real patients. School of Nursing Chair Carolynn Goetze concurs, stressing that the lab prepares students for a hospital environment.

Preparation is crucial for prospective nurses. That’s why Sac State’s nursing faculty spearheaded the creation of a local chapter of the California Simulation Alliance. And why this campus hosted the conference.

Associate Professor of Nursing Debra Brady, who is coordinating the conference, contends that Sac State’s hosting of the event is altogether fitting. This is “precisely the kind of leadership in simulation that we have envisioned,” she says, in the wake of a very generous Doyle Foundation donation. The conference also underscores Sacramento State’s commitment to community  —a point that President Alexander Gonzalez has emphasized during his campaign to make the University a destination campus.

The conference, sponsored by Laerdal and the California Simulation Alliance, was free for local service-based simulation users/nurse educators. It featured a presentation on interdisciplinary simulation by Sac State’s Bradley Stockert and simulation as a competency evaluation tool by Michael Tijerina, the Kaiser simulation learning coordinator. Forty distance learners from Fresno State were among the more than 100 participants in the first "green" conference format using iMeet.

The interdisciplinary component is crucial because it punctuates the importance of health care professionals working together to help their patients. “Simulation prepares students for the hospital experience, something they won’t get from lectures or textbooks,” Brady says. She also notes that Sac State was one of the first five universities to bring nursing and physical therapy students together with this synergistic program. Her goal is to connect with other schools and community hospitals that can benefit from simulated situations.

Members of Sac State’s California Nursing Student Association were an integral part of the SUN organization and the conference’s success. They led community participants on facility tours and demonstrated use of multiple simulators. Nursing student Sarah Blake believes the hands-on experience gained in the lab is invaluable, adding, “Simulation is just a great way to learn.”

– Alan Miller

For media assistance, contact Public Affairs at or (916) 278-6156.