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A Miami Moment with ... Donna Workman


Donna Workman
Donna Workman
Donna Workman, director of Miami University's Nursing Resource Center and visiting assistant professor of nursing, leads students through technology-enhanced medical simulations to prepare them for current hospital needs.

The new equipment is installed at Greentree Health Science Academy, Miami's newest learning location on the grounds of the Atrium Medical Center in Middletown.

Q: How long have you been in nursing?

A: I have taught at Miami for almost 20 years and another college for seven years. During most of my teaching career, I maintained some clinical practice, however, I mostly teach now.

Q: What are some of the changes you see in students?

A: We admitted 40 students on each campus [Hamilton and Middletown] into the nursing bachelor's degree program this fall. There is a surprising amount of diversity in our student population.

I have a clinical group at the Hamilton campus in which no one is much over 23 years old. And, they have little hospital or extended work experience. That is normal for a students working toward their first degree.

In another class, at the sophomore level, about half already have a degree and this is their second career. I have students representing several countries: South Africa, Philippines, Hungary and Mexico. Also in general, we have had more male students in the last 10 years than previously.

Students with varied backgrounds often are more confident in communication skills, however, younger students are very tech-savvy. I think I have always been creative but I am challenged with new ways to engage the students in their learning. I see more critical thinking and high motivation among students of all ages.

A room at the Greentree Health Science Academy.
A room at the Greentree Health Science Academy.
Q: How are students and faculty taking advantage of the technology at Greentree?

A: We have Vita Sim mannequins that make human sounds and simulate findings such as blood pressure. We also have an advanced mannequin that allows faculty to evaluate students performing physical skills such as listening to heart and lung sounds or communication skills on a patient. The faculty may be in the room during student testing or watching through a two–way mirror and headset in another room.

The goal of the nursing “sim center” is to practice skills and technologies. Our program emphasizes communications, which is important in all disciplines: psychiatric nursing, pediatrics, obstetrics, community nursing and medical-surgical. Our students get tested on all those areas for state licensure.

Another technology we are piloting is Sim chart, a computerized documentation product by Elsevier that mimics hospital charting. Students can use the lap top computers we now have in the NRC or access the product on their personal computers. Students can also use the NRC laptops to access DVD’s to practice nursing skills at the bedside. This allows students more time for guided practice.

Q: What is special about teaching in this program?

A: My varied background in the field of nursing and nursing education gives me much to offer students. This fact coupled with excellent faculty makes teaching at Miami special. There's nothing like seeing a light bulb go on when a student knows they made a difference in a patient's life.

Recently a terminally ill patient asked one of our students to go with her for testing. This young student stayed with her, offering support. The patient said the student really helped her get through the ordeal. “I really felt like a nurse today,” the student later reported to me.

Q: What’s next for the nursing program?

A: Soon we’ll install the PYXIS system, which simulates how most hospitals distribute inventory and dispense medication. In this system the patients and the meds are bar-coded and get scanned to match. It’s a cutting edge safety mechanism and having it in our educational experience better prepares students for the “real world” of nursing practice. I am very proud of our program. There are Miami graduates of the nursing program in most tri-state health care arenas and many facilities across the country.


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