Azusa Pacific University’s nationally ranked School of Nursing (SON) received a $1,498,963 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) with Ruth Mielke, PhD, RN, CNM, FACNM, WHNP-BC, associate dean of faculty affairs in the SON as the principal investigator. This grant will fund the Los Angeles County - Simulation Education Training (LAC-SET) Project, a partnership between APU, Los Angeles County, and Pasadena City College for the next three years.

“This is a unique partnership and it’s exciting to provide new modalities for nurses who have worked in the field for many years and for students who are still in school,” said Renee Pozza, PhD, RN, CNS, FNP-BC, dean of the SON.

The LAC-SET project will increase simulation training in the areas of maternal child health and aging with innovative use of community settings. LA County has higher maternal morbidity and mortality rates than most other counties across California, increasing the demand for nurses to develop earlier recognition of health issues in mothers. The LAC-SET project will use two simulation modalities to train nurses: virtual reality and high-fidelity manikins. “Simulation enables students to participate in scenarios that occur in environments closely resembling a clinical setting and helps them to gain nursing experiences and confidence, even before they start working as professionals,” Mielke said. “The students are able to put everything they have been taught into practice, cope with any difficulties and problems, and even make mistakes without causing damage, and all that in a safe environment, without any risk whatsoever for patients.” This project will enhance nursing education by increasing the number of faculty who use simulation modalities through International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation Learning (INACSL) competencies and in so doing, expand and create a practice-ready, diverse nursing workforce.

In addition to Mielke, the LAC-SET project will be implemented by SON faculty including Mary Ann Shinnick, PhD, RN, MN, ACNP, CNS, CHSE-A, FSSH, director of simulation and associate professor; Friary Nguyen, MSN, RN, CNE, CHSE, instructor; Jenna Reyes, EdD, RN, CHSE, department chair of nursing education; David Picella, PhD, RN, FNP, CNS, GS-C, CPG, director of the MSN Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner program; and Diane Newman, MS, DrPH(c), grants administrator.

The SON was recently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best nursing programs in the country. All Nurses, a top industry publication, also ranked APU’s BSN to MSN program as a top 10 program in the country, with a top 10 RN to BSN ranking in California.

“We’ve been intentional about creating many pathways and bridge programs for nurses to come back to school and achieve their next degree seamlessly,” Pozza said. “It’s exciting to see that our programs have earned these national recognitions.”

Informed by a Christian worldview, APU’s nursing school prepares professional nurses for leadership and compassionate, collaborative practice in health care. Through innovative programs and expert faculty, nursing students engage in challenging discussions, mentoring relationships in small classroom settings, invaluable hands-on experiences in state-of-the-art simulation labs, and a culturally diverse practice environment that includes both study abroad and global research opportunities. In its 49th year, the program provides a transformative education for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral students, called to enter this helping profession.