FORT KENT, Maine — A significant grant is going to help nursing students at the University of Maine at Fort Kent better prepare for the clinical setting next year.
Earlier this month, the university received a $98,851 grant from the Davis Education Foundation of Falmouth to support its Enhancing Birthing and Neonatal Care Nursing Education program. The grant will help purchase a neonatal simulator.
The simulator enables the mimicking of realistic birthing through the use of life-size models and software.
Erin Soucy, director of UMFK’s Nursing Division, said the university first began applying for the grant last spring.
“This simulator is going to be an excellent learning tool for our students,” she said Monday. “They can apply what they are learning in the classroom in a hands-on way. This is a supplement to clinical hours that is going to improve student confidence and improve their response times.”
Soucy noted that UMFK nursing students already complete more than 1,100 hours in clinical and laboratory settings. Because of the low birth rate in Aroostook County, however, nursing students often graduate with limited obstetrical, or childbirth, experiences. The Enhancing Birthing and Neonatal Education program will ad-dress that issue by employing technology to fill the experiential gap.
Soucy said the grant not only will allow the college to purchase a female and baby simulation mannequin, it also will allow UMFK to purchase the equipment needed to “treat” the new patients.
The mannequins will take nursing students through multiple scenarios that can occur in a birthing room, Soucy said Monday. The infant simulator will enhance infant care, especially in cases where special needs or higher-level medical intervention may be necessary, such as in a breech birth.
University officials believe that once in use the simulator will affect recruiting and retention of nurses. The technology will be maintained by revenues from increased student enrollment and nominal fees for in-service training.
Dr. Richard Cost, the president of UMFK, also expressed enthusiasm about the grant.
“For UMFK, this simulator will make a significant difference in the preparation of our students and hence on their ability to serve the communities where they will be employed as nurses,” he said.
The Davis Educational Foundation was established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Stanton Davis’ retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc.
Soucy said UMFK officials hope to purchase the simulators over the winter break and have them in use by the spring term or next fall.