An inside look at NAU’s new multi-million dollar nursing simulation lab

FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – According to the State Board of Nursing, Arizona ranks in the top five states with the most severe healthcare staffing shortage. Northern Arizona University recently opened a brand new nursing simulation lab aimed at training and keeping nurses in rural communities.

Jennifer Rossetti is the simulation program leader for NAU. This semester, she will teach her students using medical “Manikins.” “By bringing as much realism into the situation, when they get out into the hospital, it’s not the first time they’ve seen or laid eyes on something,” Rossetti said. “It takes the nervousness off the students.”

The simulation lab has over a dozen Manikins, costing about $30,000 each. They have six more advanced models that cost up to $100,000 each. These also include an infant and a birthing model. Rossetti said these Manikins can do anything a human can.

The Executive director of the nursing school, Dr. Janina Johnson, said it was a multi-million dollar build, but that also includes the Manikins and equipment that nurses use at real hospitals.

It’s all aimed to help keep nurses in the state and serve rural communities. “As you know, there is a national shortage of nurses, but Arizona is hit really hard by that,” Johnson said.

The New Economy Initiative (NEI) helped build the lab. Johnson said the college also received $6 million in grants from the state and a private $1 million grant for nursing programs. “So that’s also going to help support the expansion in our rural areas and then support nurses wanting to stay in our communities and work,” Johnson said.

Rossetti said she’s proud to be training the next generation of nurses who will care for her community. “We always want to support our next nurses,” Rossetti said. “But our focus is on rural, there’s a nursing shortage, and just to be able to continue to support. I can’t be a nurse forever, so I need someone to take over for me and my generation of nurses. So it’s great to see we’re raining up really wonderful nurses to lead the charge.”

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