Southern Cross University’s well-equipped Nursing Schools are based in Lismore and Coffs Harbour in northern New South Wales and Tweed Heads in the Gold Coast. With Tweed Heads/Gold Coast Campus undergoing development, a solution was sought to bring state-of-the-art training to these regions.

A fully operational mobile simulation unit

Southern Cross University applied for a $1.4 million government grant two years ago, which covered simulation technologies and equipment and a prime mover and semi-trailer. When in use the Sim Truck expands to make a 9m x 5m space, which includes the control room, tutorial and debrief room, ward, extensive health simulation equipment (including five manikins), two beds [stretchers], a patient care chair and an infant cot.

Testing the curriculum

The Sim Truck is now well on the way to being fully integrated into the 2013 nursing curriculum. “We’re still in the testing stages at the moment, and exploring the vast potential of this unit,” says Technical Officer Jan Murphy. “So the truck isn’t yet fully booked throughout the week. The faculty is getting ready for the 2013 year, when the Sim Truck will be fully incorporated into the curriculum.” Eventually it will have applications across the entire School of Health and Human Sciences – from Midwifery to Osteopathy and even Mental Health scenarios.

“At the moment our academics practice in the labs to help them develop these new curriculums. They also use scenarios from SimStore to see if they’re applicable to their course. So both the equipment and the course are being tested.”

Broader community benefits to mobile simulation

Existing health professionals throughout the region can also support their continuing professional development with the mobile Sim Truck. Jan notes that the possibilities are endless, and that wherever there are students, the truck could potentially go. “Anyone who wants to use it can – there’s no reason why it can’t go out to Broken Hill. They just have to pay for the costs of moving it, such as petrol and a driver.” The unit can be set up and packed away by only one person, with the data able to be sent and received wirelessly to either the university or nearby hospitals.

“While it’s a very steep learning curve for all of us, it’s been an exciting time, says Jan. “The truck has had a really positive reception from everyone and has the capacity to cover more students at all of our sites. In our region, if you drive 50km to the west there may just be a small hospital. How do you educate the staff? With a mobile training facility, this is absolutely possible.”