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RMU Receives $500,000 Grant for New Nursing Simulation Center 

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Robert Morris University will receive a $500,000 state grant to create a state-of-the-art simulation laboratory that can serve as a regional health care training center.

The grant is a result of the efforts of state Rep. Mark Mustio and state Sen. John Pippy, and it comes from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The state grant comes on top of a $250,000 grant RMU received this spring from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield for the new simulation laboratory, as well as $95,000 federal grant that came to RMU as a result of the effort of U.S. Sens. Robert Casey Jr. and Arlen Specter.
“Robert Morris University has proven itself as a leader in the use of simulation to provide clinical training to health care workers,” said Mustio, R-Moon Township. “Health care is our region’s largest industry, but it faces a critical shortage of skilled professionals, so this is will be a powerful workforce development tool.”
“Robert Morris University has an outstanding reputation for health care education,” said Pippy, R-Moon Township. “Using innovative technology, through simulation, to further develop and advance RMU’s health care education will ensure that the future of our region’s health care will be a positive one. We are pleased to provide this grant for the university and its students.”

The grant will pay for staff and equipment, including high-fidelity simulation mannequins, which allow nursing students and health care workers to get real-world experience in a safe and controlled environment. Ultimately, the university plans to construct a building to house simulation laboratories for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.
The 23,000 square-foot simulation center is still in the design phase, and is tentatively scheduled to be completed in 2011.

“The vision for the simulation center is to provide education not only to RMU undergraduate and graduate students, but to also assist with the training and testing of other health care professionals throughout the region,” said RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo. “We are grateful to Rep. Mustio and Sen. Pippy for helping to make this a reality.”

With a nursing school that is just six years old, RMU has become a leader in health care education. RMU nursing students pass state licensing exams at well above the state average, the university has the first state Board of Nursing certified doctor of nursing practice program, and western Pennsylvania’s only bachelor’s degree program in nuclear medicine technology.

Part of the success of the RMU’s nursing program can be attributed to its use of simulation. The university’s “SimMan” mannequin can be programmed to mimic the responses of a live patient to medical treatment administered by students. The university’s simulation coordinator, Valerie Howard, is a pioneer in the use of technology and high-fidelity simulation in nursing education.

“Simulation affords the opportunity for our students and health care practitioners to practice psychomotor skills, teamwork, communication and other activities within a safe environment without subjecting our live patients to any undue harm,” said Howard, an associate professor of nursing.

“Research in this area has shown that simulation can be used to provide better practice and training for our health care providers which ultimately decreases medical errors and improves patient outcomes in the health care arena,” said Howard.