The university's SIM satellite: a mini nursing lab

Dimitri Tsalavoutas


As some of you may know, the university has a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) program that is offered collaboratively with Durham College. The main nursing lab is in Durham College, where a large facility replicates real-life situations to challenge nursing students in an environment where no harm will come to real patients. Students have the opportunity to practice as often as they need, to achieve mastery of complex nursing practice. The lab contains a 30 bed mini-hospital! Students must apply all of their nursing knowledge to help tend patients back to health. At the end of the four years, BScN graduates will write the entry to practice exam, the NCLEX.

Some classes can have up to 250 students, but groups of approximately eight to ten are typical in the nursing clinical groups. Most nursing courses have 50 to 60 students. 

Did you know that here at the university, we have our own simulation room? 


The “SIM Satellite” is a room in the Science Building where students can practice their skills on a human mannequin (high fidelity simulator – HFS) that talks, breathes, has audible heart sounds, breath sounds and bowel sounds, and you can feel pulses. The mannequins also have pupils that constrict to light. The technology is so sophisticated, the simulator will cry and bleed when programmed!  They are actually kinda creepy…

It’s a very small room, close to the size of a private hospital room, and there is a lot of useful equipment in there for nursing students to utilize daily.


The students have access to a whole family of mannequins. They are dressed in clothes and wigs to make them appear real. This helps with the learning or to ‘suspend disbelief’; the first step when starting a simulation. There is a mother that actually gives birth, a neonate that feels floppy like a premature baby, a baby, a toddler, a six-year-old and even grandparents!


Below is a LifePak defibrillator. Students need to practice with the latest technology, so the bed and the infusion pump are all current equipment found in actual hospitals. With oxygen, suction equipment and the defibrillator close by, the students will be prepared for any emergency. The great thing about these simulations is that you can practice the skills that you need to perform expertly but don’t often have the chance to practice, such as CPR.


The monitor display will have the patient’s heart rhythm and other important information to help cue the patient. The professor will change the settings if the patient is going into crisis during scenario. 


The students use the latest equipment to learn their skills, such as taking a patient’s blood pressure. For the BScN student it goes beyond taking the blood pressure, the student needs to engage in a therapeutic relationship as well as understanding what the blood pressure means for their simulated patient.

The two-way mirror on wheels in this picture is set up so that professors can observe what the students are doing during examinations.  This way the students are not distracted by professors watching their every move.


By the way, don’t eat burgers and drink pop when you’re here… wouldn’t want to make a mess!


In this cabinet is the special equipment needed to feed babies and patients unable to eat food normally. There are special stethoscopes that are programmed by the professor so that the student will listen to a real person (a standardized patient), or the mannequin, and note any of the different sounds.


This wheelchair is for students to practice handling and maneuvering patients with.


Below are shelves holding the usual supplies found in a hospital.  The students need to practice so they are proficient when they go to the practicum.


If you have any questions about the nursing program, check out this FAQ tab from the university's nursing info page. There are also many other headings along the side that can steer those of you interested in the program, in the right direction!

Want to see more of our campus? Check out our virtual tour!

Check out our Virtual Campus Tour


Special thanks to Leslie Graham for the technical information and Cindy Arnett for showing me the SIM Satellite.

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