SPOKANE, Wash. – Throughout her 15-year nursing career, Janet Willhaus frequently has asked herself, “How can I advance nursing as a profession?”
 
Now, she has the opportunity. Through a competitive application process, the Washington State University nursing doctoral student and teaching assistant recently was selected as the scholar in residence for the New York-based National League for Nursing (NLN), a professional organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education.
 
The role is a new position for the NLN, and Willhaus is appointed for one year beginning Sept. 6. As scholar in residence, Willhaus will provide direction to NLN initiatives to advance the use of simulation in nursing education, including efforts to increase faculty development in simulation program offerings and expansion of the Simulation Innovation Resource Center website.
 
Nursing simulation involves the use of a manikin to practice key skills such as inserting an IV and monitoring changes in health. It allows students to practice nursing in a safe setting on a “patient” who responds in a realistic manner – high-fidelity manikins can talk, sweat, bleed, experience changes in blood pressure and even cry.
 
Simulation also enables students to practice working as a team to deliver the best patient care.
 
“Although simulation is a traditional component of a well-rounded nursing program, many nursing faculty have not been fully trained in the methodology or the technology,” said Willhaus. “I will be able to advise educators on integrating simulation into their curricula and using simulation as an effective tool to prepare clinically competent nurses.”
 
Willhaus has had many opportunities to lead simulation trainings for students, faculty and practicing nurses.
 
“While serving in the U.S. Army Reserve in Topeka, Kan., I was selected to train medics using simulation,” Willhaus said. “Using high-fidelity manikins, I developed scenarios that health care personnel could face in war situations, such as caring for a patient who had survived an IED blast or moving a convoy.”
 
After an exhaustive search to identify a nursing program that excelled in simulation, Willhaus came to WSU in 2009. Once accepted into the doctoral program and after working with simulation faculty, Willhaus looked for opportunities to improve the program.
 
Through peer model trainings, Willhaus advised faculty on best practices in simulation and how to use simulation to meet overarching program objectives. She also assisted faculty in the Sleep and Performance Research Center’s simulation laboratory.
 
NLN program officer Elaine Tagliareni is looking forward to using Willhaus’ expertise in simulation to build a strong program.
 
“Janet’s strong simulation experience and her focus on researching innovative ways to deliver simulation for nursing students made her a stand-out for the scholar in residence program,” Tagliareni said.
 
Willhaus will take the year off from teaching at WSU, but will continue to work on her doctorate while in New York.
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Media contact:
Alli Benjamin, marketing and communication manager, WSU College of Nursing,
alli.benjamin@wsu.edu, 509-324-7340