Dr. Lorin Ramocki believes in the power of learning and growing—by doing.
The School of Nursing and Health Professions professor has gotten high praise from her students, colleagues and community stakeholders for her innovative use of simulations—centered around hands-on, project-based learning—that help bring her curriculum to life and underscore its relevancy.
With clinical opportunities limited because of the pandemic, over the last academic year alone:
- To prepare more than 60 Nursing students for work in COVID vaccination clinics, Ramocki created a mock clinic of her own and handed it over to participants to manage. Students learned about the varying roles at vaccination clinics, along with the patient education and monitoring.
- Ramocki created a mock homeless camp (complete with volunteer actors) on campus for a simulation that gave Nursing students vital experience “treating” patients who are living on the streets, coordinating care with a treatment team and overcoming barriers to helping them.
- Ramocki even had students put on their public health detective hats for a fast-paced epidemiology “unfolding case study” that tasked them with working out the source of a simulated Hepatitis A outbreak with 25 mock patients, each with unique back stories.
Dr. Rhoberta Haley, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions, said these types of simulations are obviously more engaging than lectures or rote memorization. And engaged students learn more. But their real power, she said, is in their immersive nature. In a simulation, students are embracing their roles as critical thinkers, as leaders and as team-based collaborators.
“Every step of the way in these simulations, Dr. Ramocki is asking her students to apply what they’ve learned and then build on it as they also work with their peers—whether it’s puzzling out a public health problem that impacts an entire community or ensuring that a single patient gets quality care,” Haley said. “Her students emerge from these simulations much more prepared for success.”
Haley added that she is especially impressed with how Ramocki has stressed not only the key foundational elements of her curriculum in the simulations, but important soft skills—like how to work with a patient to understand their unique needs or how to overcome the stigma of homelessness.
“That’s what learning by doing really means—doing the real work to understand its many facets.”
Dr. Ramocki said that she designed the simulations to engage students and provide critical clinical hours during the COVID-19 pandemic. Placements in the community for Public Health Nursing clinical course students were limited in 2020, with strict health protocols in place, so Ramocki improvised. “I wanted to give students the best experience possible during this time period,” she said, “when we were restricted to providing clinical experiences only on campus.” And so innovation was born out of adversity.
Dr. Ramocki’s simulated homeless camp was especially intricate.
The realistic camp was built on campus and included eight case studies, with “patients” who had divergent backgrounds, back stories and health issues that were representative of the broader homeless population. In addition to helping students consider the psychosocial, financial and common medical problems among homeless residents, it also sought to help students develop empathy and reduce stigma as they worked comprehensively to serve a unique and high-needs patient population.
Dr. Ramocki also developed a tuberculosis clinic simulation that included modules for contact tracing, screening and testing, precaution protocols and various treatments. Each patient had a back story that students had to sift through in order check them in assessment and triage them to the appropriate service.
She said while the pandemic created the need for these simulations, she’ll continue to use them.
After all, she’s gotten her own hands-on learning in creating the simulations and rolling them out.