FORT KENT, Maine — A new state-of-the-art simulation center for the nursing program at the University of Maine at Fort Kent is the first of its kind in New England, according to school officials.
The nursing center is coming to the school thanks to a grant written by assistant professor of nursing Duane Belanger. Funding for the new facility will come out of $35 million that was awarded to the University of Maine System from the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan.
The simulation center will have unique features such as sound, smell and touch.
University of Maine System Strategic Adviser and Director of External Affairs Tory Ryden said this will ensure that UMFK’s nursing program stays consistent with other system schools. UMFK has nursing simulators available to students, both on campus and also through a collaboration with the University of Maine at Presque Isle. This new facility will update the school’s existing nursing simulators.
“These are critical tools in training some of the most essential workers in Maine,” Ryden said.
There are simulators at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, the University of Maine, the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine at Augusta that the University of Maine at Farmington also uses, Ryden said.
And while other schools in Maine have nursing simulation centers, the new one at UMFK will create full-immersion projections on the classroom walls and floors that bring the entire class into a virtual reality environment. The software will also use smells, sounds and touch to enhance the immersion.
The system can be customized as well.
The center also features a Gaumard Hal simulator manikin that can respond to and interact with students. It can also act in a way that depicts symptoms from a range of medical conditions.
The university’s board of visitors will offer a first-hand glimpse at the new technology during a business breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 22, featuring a panel discussion about the school’s nursing program followed by a tour of the new simulation center.
Panelists will include Belanger and Dr. Erin Soucy, dean of undergraduate nursing and associate provost. The panelists will discuss how the simulation center will provide students with hands-on training in a risk-free environment.
Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online at umfk.edu/business-breakfast. The registration deadline is Sept. 14.
CORRECTION: This report was modified to clarify that funding for the facility came out of $35 million that was previously awarded to the University of Maine System, but it was not funded with the entire $35 million. It also clarifies that this will not be the school’s first nursing simulator.