Donor Impact Spring 2016

Simulation changes how health care education is delivered

Thanks in part to gifts made by private donors, Grand Valley students who are majoring in health professions and nursing are being trained for the workforce in a lab that uses cutting-edge simulation technology to ensure the learning environment is as close to the real-world as you can get.

The Simulation and Learning Resource Center in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, part of Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile, uses real hospital equipment and state-of-the-art patient simulators that can be programmed to help students practice their skills.

“These simulators ensure that when they graduate all of our students have experiences they need to prepare them for their clinical practice,” said Doris French, director of simulation.

Students learn much more than just clinical skills in the Sim Lab. They are able to work through their own emotional responses to emergent clinical situations or patient outcomes as well as learn to communicate with family members and patients.

What makes simulation labs unique is the array of different simulation scenarios that can be programmed and changed in real-time to help students plan for the unexpected.

“The quality of this simulation lab rivals, or is superior to, universities with medical schools, and, in those institutions, undergraduate and master’s students would be competing for simulation time with medical students,” French said. “What we have here is a facility that is changing how health care education is delivered.”

The manikins and task trainers for hands-on practice are expensive, and funding for the lab is supplemented by gifts from corporate donors and foundations, including Perrigo, which helped fund the lab. Headquartered in Allegan, Perrigo is an international manufacturer of private label over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.

“Having this advanced equipment allows us to provide varied learning experiences that we have 100 percent control over, while making every simulation different,” said Samantha Scanlon, simulation coordinator. “We work really hard to make this a safe place for students to learn.”

Nursing students work on a simulation baby

Students from the Kirkhof College of Nursing practice their skills on a manikin baby in the lab at the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.

The simulation team works directly with faculty members to plan a simulation that meets learning objectives.

Jean Nagelkerk, vice provost for Health, said the interprofessional collaboration among disciplines in the lab ensures that students develop clinical and professional competencies.

“As our students become health professionals, they are well-versed on professional roles and responsibilities, teamwork and effective communication, which are vital to the delivery of safe, cost-effective, patient-centered care,” Nagelkerk said.

The entire environment, which includes clinical skills labs, the simulation lab, and the standardized patient program that allows students to work with actual people who are serving as actors in a scenario, gives health professions and nursing students a significant boost when it comes time to treat real patients with real health problems.

French said, “Being able to give students the experience with cases that might not often be seen at a clinic or hospital prepares them for anything they would see in a real care environment.”

Giving Matters

Engineering lab expands

Thanks to a three-year, $300,000 gift from the DTE Energy Foundation, an engineering lab has been expanded and upgraded.

One of the foundation’s goals in providing a gift for the DTE Energy Foundation Electromagnetic Compatibility Lab is to increase employability of participating engineering students.

Graduates with EMC experience have close to a 100 percent placement rate and can expect a starting salary of nearly $54,500.


Scholarship celebrates 10 years of leadership

In celebration of President Thomas J. Haas’ 10th academic year, alumni, students and friends have established the Tom and Marcia Haas Power of 10 Endowed Scholarship.

The fund will provide support for well-rounded students who demonstrate the character and sense of purpose that define a Laker. For more information about the Power of 10 scholarship or to make a gift, visit


Honoring university leaders

Two longtime Grand Valley leaders, Bart Merkle and Tim Selgo, were honored with scholarships to thank them for their many years of service to students and the Laker community.

Merkle has been with Grand Valley for 32 years and will soon be transitioning from vice provost for Student Affairs and dean of students to faculty. Colleagues, students and friends honored him with the H. Bart Merkle CSAL Endowment Fund, which helps to fund professional development for graduate assistants in the College Student Affairs Leadership program.

Tim Selgo, who has served as athletic director for 20 years, is retiring at the end of this academic year. The Tim and Terry Selgo Student Athlete Endowed Scholarship will benefit student athletes who demonstrate financial need.

Visit and to give to the scholarship funds.

Page last modified May 24, 2016