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Mannequins at new nursing school in eastern Idaho can simulate human behavior

Small Business Spotlight

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IDAHO FALLS – A new nursing school in Idaho Falls provides mannequins programmed to simulate a variety of medical conditions for students and they’ll be on display for you to see during an open house next month.

Eagle Gate College opened last September in the old Sports Authority building at 1592 East 17th Street in Idaho Falls. It offers four different degree programs, including medical assisting, practical nursing, a bachelor of science in nursing and a master’s entry program in nursing.

Campus Director Felicia Wright tells EastIdahoNews.com the first year of schooling is completed online, with a combination of online and campus classes after that.

“They do the theory portion online and then they’re on campus for labs, simulations and then they do clinical rotations at the hospital,” Wright says.

Seventy students are currently enrolled but another 49 will be enrolled this fall. The first group of students to complete the yearlong medical assisting program graduated last month.

Wright says about 80% of students have completed prerequisite courses at other schools and haven’t been able to get in because of long waitlists for the program. One of the things that sets this school apart from other nursing schools, Wright says, is that prerequisites are not required and the programs can be completed more quickly.

“They’re able to get their bachelor’s in nursing in only three years and the students enroll directly into the nursing program. They don’t need to complete prerequisites and then apply to the nursing program. Once they’re accepted to Eagle Gate, they are in the nursing program already,” she says.

Another thing that makes the school unique is its state-of-the-art simulation lab with mannequins that can provide an interactive experience for students.

“The mannequins can simulate heart attacks, strokes, students can starts IV’s on them. They practice real-world scenarios on the simulation mannequins before they go out to clinicals and (work with) real patients,” says Wright.

The mannequins can also be programmed to scream, vomit, moan, cough and respond to students when they speak to them. See how it works in the video player above.

eagle gate students
Students working with a mannequin at Eagle Gate College | Courtesy Google, July 2020

Though the College of Eastern Idaho and Brigham Young University-Idaho both offer simulation labs, Wright says their mannequins are brand new and are equipped with the latest technology.

RELATED | How hospitals are dealing with a nursing shortage during the pandemic

Wright says there was a huge need for a nursing school in eastern Idaho and that’s what inspired her to open this school in Idaho Falls. This location was appealing to administrators because of its proximity to a high-traffic area.

“We saw that there was a need in the community for nurses and healthcare professionals and there just wasn’t enough space in some of the existing programs here so we brought the campus here,” Wright says.

A nursing shortage in Idaho makes jobs easy to come by for graduates. Wright says three of the students who just graduated already had jobs before completing the program.

“I think there will probably be a lot of similar situations when the nursing students go out to clinicals, where they’re able to network and find positions,” she says.

Eagle Gate College first opened in Murray, Utah 42 years ago. The Idaho Falls campus is the first location in eastern Idaho and is a division of Unitek Learning based in Newport Beach, California.

Wright started her career in higher education 15 years ago and she says it’s rewarding to watch students come in with a goal and succeed.

“Maybe it’s something they’ve been thinking about for a long time and is a second career for them. Now they’re finally coming back to school and watching them go through the process and grow and get a career is rewarding,” Wright says.

After the first year of operation, Wright says they’ll be having their first group of nursing students on campus this September and she’s excited to get the labs up and running and start working one-on-one with students.

“Not a lot of people know that we’re here so once we have students out on clinical sites, there’ll be a lot more interest in the program,” she says.

A ribbon-cutting and open house will be held Wednesday, July 14 from noon to 3 p.m. Tours will be available with more information about the school. Lunch will be provided and there will also be prizes and goody bags for everyone who attends.

To apply or learn more, visit the school’s website or Facebook page.

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