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The University of Southern Mississippi School of Nursing has been selected to participate in a landmark national study that will examine the use of simulation in nursing education.

Southern Miss is one of 10 schools nationwide chosen for the study, which is being conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

Dr. Kathy Masters, associate director of the School of Nursing, points out that the purpose of the study is to examine the effects of simulated clinical experiences when integrated throughout the pre-licensure nursing curriculum and substituted for clinical hours.

"While simulation experiences are already an important component of the clinical nursing education of students enrolled in the USM School of Nursing, participation in the study will obviously benefit the School of Nursing through the faculty development opportunities related to simulation that participation in this study will provide," said Masters. "The benefits to students will include participation in carefully designed simulation and debriefing experiences, as well as the provision of some testing and resource materials at no cost while involved in the study."

Faculty members who teach clinical courses in the undergraduate program will receive training and be involved in implementation of the study. The School of Nursing, located within the College of Health at Southern Miss, will receive $300,000 in grant funding for the two-year study.

"This grant award is the latest in a long line of indications that we have one of the most innovative and resourceful of nursing programs not merely in the state of Mississippi, but in the nation," said Dr. Mike Forster, dean of the College of Health at Southern Miss.

Masters notes that the study will be using evidence-based practices to conduct the simulation experiences, debriefing sessions and evaluation of student performance. Students will be evaluated specifically on clinical competency and nursing knowledge.

Students enrolled in the study will be those admitted to the baccalaureate nursing program on the Hattiesburg campus in the fall semester 2011. They will be randomly assigned into three groups in order to determine if there are differences in clinical competency among graduating nursing students with 50 percent, 25 percent or 10 percent of traditional clinical hours substituted with simulation experiences.

The new nurse graduates will be followed into their first year of practice.

"We're excited for the opportunity to participate in a national, landmark study that has a potential for future regulation in nursing practice and education," said Dr. Katherine Nugent, director of the School of Nursing at Southern Miss.

"Participation in the study will benefit the faculty and students as we will receive the use of a comprehensive simulation curriculum for core clinical courses, extensive faculty training and development in student performance evaluation, and presentation and authorship opportunities."

For more information about the School of Nursing, call (601) 266-5454 or visit
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