Jan. 18, 2002
Volume XXXV, No. 3

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Clinical skills labs prepare students for nursing profession

Connelly appointed new director of School of Nursing labs

PHOTO Dr. Lynne Connelly (center), director of the clinical skills laboratories in the School of Nursing, works closely with teaching assistants Louann Click (left) and Laura Ecuyer to prepare the labs for student use.

The room is full of hospital beds that seem to be occupied by patients. On closer inspection, the patients are actually life-size mannequins dressed in hospital gowns and sporting many of the tubes and dressings that real patients might have. Across the room rubber arms lay on beds and plastic tubes connect IV bags full of fluid. This is the scene in one of several clinical skills laboratories located in the basement of the School of Nursing.

"Our teaching assistants plan, set up and teach the labs to mirror real-life hospital care situations," said Dr. Lynne Connelly, the new director of the clinical skills laboratories in the School of Nursing. "They thoroughly utilize equipment so that students can practice important procedures on lifelike body parts and life-sized mannequins." Connelly said students learn the techniques of suture removal and administering oxygen, blood, and oral and intravenous medication to patients. They also learn how to care for wounds, tracheotomy incisions and much more.

The clinical skills lab area consists of three large laboratories, one IV practice room, four nurse practitioner offices and one classroom. More than 100 nursing students use the labs each day. Students also are allowed to schedule time to practice particular techniques in the labs after normal lab hours.

"Students nowadays are so busy with classes, family and other personal issues that the time they have in the labs is very precious to them," Dr. Connelly said. "We want to make sure that our students have the time and tools they need to prepare them for jobs in the nursing profession."

Dr. Connelly said she will continue to upgrade the equipment and space in the labs and hopes to expand the labs to include a home health care practice setting.

"The nursing profession is constantly evolving. Nurses no longer just work in hospitals," Dr. Connelly said. "They are everywhere — in schools, in nursing homes, in businesses and in patients' homes. Currently, there is a growing need for home health care nurses," Dr. Connelly said. "Partnerships with home health care agencies and other health care organizations in town will allow our students to put into practice in the real world what they learn in our clinical skills labs."

Dr. Connelly earned her bachelor of science in nursing and master of science in nursing degrees from the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas School of Nursing. Prior to her appointment at the Health Science Center, Dr. Connelly served as chief of the department of nursing science in the Army Medical Department Center and School at Fort Sam Houston. She retired from the U.S. Army with 22 years of service as a colonel in the Army Nurse Corps. Dr. Connelly has received numerous awards and honors, including the University of Kansas Nurses Alumni Association's Ph.D. Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Leadership, the Phyllis J. Verhonick Research Excellence Award and several military honors. She is a member of the National League for Nursing, the Emergency Nurses Association, the Association of Military Surgeons, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Theta Tau International, the Midwest Nursing Research Society and the Southern Nursing Research Society.

To learn more about the clinical skills labs in the School of Nursing, call Dr. Connelly at ext. 7-5860.

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