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Calhoun Community College unveils high-tech nursing simulation lab

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -  It may look like your typical hospital. Complete with hospital beds, curtains for patient privacy. Except the patients aren't actual humans, they're high-tech mannequins.

That's exactly what you see when you enter Calhoun Community College's new nursing simulation lab. The lab is a result of a partnership between Calhoun and Huntsville Hospital.

School officials said nursing students are elated.

"They've been like a kid at Christmas. Because they've been in class since August, but the lab wasn't ready until nearly the end of September --- the middle of October," said Bret McGill, Dean of Health Sciences.

Calhoun hasn't always had a nursing program, but accepted its first group of nursing students in the fall. The school plans to graduate 48 registered nurses by 2020.

"We've expanded our capacity to graduate nursing students and put them in the workforce," said McGill. "So, if you wanted to be a nurse, and you wanted to come to Calhoun Community College, there are now more opportunities than we had last year at this same time."

Calhoun officials said they hope the lab-inspired classroom will lead to a smooth transition for its nursing students.

"This is as much like Huntsville Hospital or a hospital that our students will work in, as you can simulate in a non-hospital environment," said McGill. "So when they walk in this lab, or when they leave this lab to go to a hospital, it's going to seem like very familiar territory to our students."

There's even a mannequin in the simulation lab that has a pulse and gives birth.

Nursing students say they believe the new hands-on experience will expose them to a true medical environment.

Calhoun's lab was paid for in part by a grant from the Alabama Capital Trust Fund. The remaining costs were covered by Huntsville Hospital.

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