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May 15, 2012

Blinn wins state grant for hospital simulation equipment

Funds will allow Blinn to graduate more students in high-demand health care field

Blinn College has won a grant from the Texas Comptroller worth almost $300,000 that will be used to create the most realistic simulation experience possible for tomorrow’s health care professionals.

Blinn was awarded $292,177 from the state’s Job Building Fund, which was designed by the Texas Legislature to fund training in high-demand occupations. The College is required to fund 5 percent of the project, totaling $15,390. Toward that end, College Station Medical Center has pledged a $2,500 donation.

“There are critical jobs that need to be filled as soon as possible,” State Comptroller Susan Combs said. “These grants will help students move one step closer to employment in fields that are very important to Texas’ diverse economy.”

The Texas Legislature approved a new $25 million Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) program to aid state economic growth in 2009, of which $10 million was allocated to the Job Building Fund to finance equipment purchases for new or high-demand career and technical education programs. Through a competitive process, Blinn was selected to receive funds for the purchase of additional equipment to support the Registered Nursing program located at the new Texas A&M Health Science Center campus.

Since 2009, community colleges and technical institutes have been awarded $16 million to buy career training equipment.

Blinn was previously awarded a $350,000 JET grant in 2010. The funding furthered Blinn’s efforts to purchase more sophisticated “high fidelity” simulation mannequins, a significant step up from the College’s older, “medium fidelity” mannequins.  These more expensive and advanced mannequins represent the leading edge of simulation technology and boost Blinn’s nursing and allied health endeavors into the realm of the elite programs with such capabilities nationwide.

“One factor contributing to the nursing shortage is the lack of clinical practice space and the availability of time in hospitals for nursing candidates to observe and safely practice on human patients,” said Dr. Thena Parrott, Blinn’s Allied Health division chair.

The grant will allow Blinn to continue upgrading its simulation mannequins and populate more patient beds in its simulated hospital. The advanced mannequins have considerably more “human” functions than older models, from blood pressure, pulse and urination to almost any bodily function a health practitioner could encounter in the real world.

Clinical simulation facilities are an important part of Blinn’s capacity to graduate highly skilled nurses who are prepared to quickly obtain their license and begin working in today’s high-demand health services environment. Blinn is leveraging the simulation environment to provide up to half of the required clinical practice training time needed to become a licensed nurse.

The central focus of Blinn’s simulation curriculum development is for training of Registered Nurses. However, there are value-added impacts across all Allied Health disciplines due to the interdisciplinary focus of the simulation training environment.

About Blinn College’s Facilities at the Texas A&M Health Science Center:
Blinn’s 53,000 square feet facility at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Clinical Building I. celebrated an open house in November of 2011.  The facility is home to four of Blinn’s five Allied Health programs, including Associate Degree Nursing/Vocational Nursing, Emergency Medical Services, Physical Therapist Assistant and Radiologic Technology

Blinn occupies: the entire second floor, about half of the third floor and about one-quarter of the fourth floor. The facility supports more than 500 Blinn students through Allied Health certificate and degree programs and some general education classes.

In addition, an articulation agreement signed last October between Blinn College and the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing ensures that Blinn ADN nurses being trained in these new facilities can seamlessly transition to the College of nursing to finish a bachelor’s degree—which helps meet the (national) Institute of Medicine’s call for 80 percent of nurses nationwide to attain a bachelor’s degree.  The facility affords Blinn room to meet the Texas Board of Nursing mandate to double its output of nursing graduates by 2013.