Two Siena faculty members met with state legislators on January 24 to advocate for a bill that would permit nursing programs in New York to substitute up to one-third of required clinical education with simulation-based learning experiences (SBLE). 

Lisa Lally, D.N.S., founding director of Siena’s Baldwin Nursing Program, and clinical lab coordinator Felicia Connell, M.S.N., visited several state senators and Assembly members as part of Simulation Education Lobby Day. They addressed why SBLE legislation is critical to clinical education and solving the nursing shortage crisis in New York.

“Allowing for more simulation-based experience will help us expand our programs and better address the nursing shortage in New York,” said Lally. “Studies show that educational outcomes are actually better when students have access to SBLE during their programs because they are able to practice a variety of specific care scenarios.” 

According to the state Department of Health, New York faces a projected shortage of 40,000 nurses by the year 2030. Senate bill 447 (Assembly bill to come soon) would help offset a pronounced shortage of clinical placement opportunities for nursing students. Thirty states already offer the flexibility to use SBLE.

Siena’s nursing education partner Maria College set up some of their simulation equipment in the Legislative Office Building to demonstrate its effectiveness. Nursing program visitors, including Lally and Connell, told legislators and their staff how simulation is a safe and effective best practice model for nursing education.

The lobbying effort proved effective: after their visit, Sen. Peter Oberacker (NY-51) signed on as a supporter of the bill. 

“There are a lot of benefits to simulation,” said Connell. “It’s a very effective way to provide student specific clinical education. It gives students more actual hands-on experience with different patient scenarios they may not come across at an actual bedside. Instead of just observing in a clinical setting, they can simulate the experience of being the primary nurse and being responsible for making clinical decisions without risk to a patient.”

Lally and Connell explained that in a simulation lab, nursing professors can observe their students’ work, then debrief immediately afterwards. With SBLE, clinical practice can begin earlier in a nursing program.  Siena’s new science complex will feature space for a home health care simulation.