JACKSON – Rebecca Cockrell fosters hands-on learning in Hinds Community College’s Ball Simulation Center.

Cockrell works with both students as an instructor in the healthcare field and as a staff member working with faculty in the Ball Simulation Center at the Jackson Campus-Nursing/Allied Health Center.

“It’s a big moment when a student returns to me after they graduate and say, ‘Miss Cockrell, I can’t believe it. This same situation happened and I knew how to take care of my patient.’ They got that experience here in the simulation center. To know we’re producing competent healthcare providers in a safe environment who know how to take care of patients – that’s big.”

Cockrell, of Raymond, directs the unique facility and touches the lives of faculty and students through her 14 years’ experience working with both. For 10 of those years, she taught courses for students in the practical nursing and Associate Degree Nursing programs and also worked in the Learning Lab. In her current role, she trains faculty so they are able to direct a simulation.

“We provide real-world health moments in a psychologically safe environment, which means students can feel safe in learning how to take care of a patient without the threat of doing harm,” she said. “It’s a safe place to make mistakes. We treat them as puzzles to solve.”

The Ball Simulation Center opened in 2014 in a building donated to the college by Drs. Christopher and Kyle Ball and named for Dr. George Ball. It features the latest technology in the way of video, audio and other equipment to train students in five simulation labs, two medical surgical patient rooms, an emergency room, a childbirth simulation area, a home care lab and four debriefing rooms.

“In the clinical setting, students are limited in what they can do on their own,” she said. “Here, we see them able to make that leap between what they learn in a textbook and what they will do as a practitioner. We’ve seen a huge impact on test scores from students having a chance to come here. Learning from the texts is one thing, but actually practicing and walking through those steps has resulted in increases in test scores. It’s been profound on their learning.”

Cockrell said the childbirth simulation area is especially useful for Associate Degree Nursing students, who don’t do any clinical work with patients in childbirth until later in their education.
“For our Associate Degree Nursing students, they can come in and take part in the delivery of an infant at the bedside as it’s happening (virtually),” she said.

Another vital piece of her job is making sure students and faculty foster the learning of additional skills that go along with all nursing and allied health careers.

“Being in the simulation center is good practice for them in learning how to talk to a patient. It’s hugely impactful for the patient when in the hospital setting. I’m thrilled we can provide students with the opportunity to practice caring interventions, communicating to patients and simulate working in high-risk environments.”

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