Enhancement in Education, Part Six: Standing Room Only

This story is part of an ongoing series about the BYU College of Nursing’s Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center and the College’s constant efforts to update it.


Nursing student Sydney Wilson practices injecting a manikin in the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center.

On November 11, any visitor to the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center’s walk-in lab would not have had much elbow room. That day 52 students were crammed inside, each trying to practice key nursing skills and techniques with what little space they had.

While this may sound chaotic, it is actually indicative of the immense success that the walk-in lab has experienced over the past two years, as well as curriculum changes that are increasing the lab’s attendance.

Since so much of nursing education is focused on repetition, it follows that students will want to take extra time to practice skills they learn in class. The walk-in lab is designed to offer students an open environment to do exactly that.

“Most other colleges don’t have a walk-in lab, so it’s unique in that we have it at all,” Colleen Tingey, NLC supervisor, says. “Most places don’t have [a walk-in lab], and if they do, they’re ones that have been newly built but got the idea from us.”

Other nursing schools often charge students to use college facilities for practice; at the NLC, students have free reign to hone in their skills without an additional cost. This allows them to build self-confidence and learn nursing techniques without shouldering a financial burden.

“The walk-in lab is open for them to come in and practice,” Kristen Whipple, NLC assistant supervisor, says. “They can’t just walk [in the other rooms] and practice.”

Recently, however, the lab has served another purpose. Some professors have begun to require students to complete skills pass offs via video, which means that they have to film themselves completing the tests in the walk-in lab.

“The biggest thing that happened is the med/surg students were assigned to videotape themselves doing their pass offs instead of coming in for a test,” Whipple says. Whipple also notes that many of these students have driven personalities, thus leading to them taping themselves upwards of two or three times to make sure they get it just right.

With entire classes filming themselves multiple times adding on to the already large amount of students present, the walk-in lab suddenly rivals the Creamery as a gathering spot.

“A lot more things are getting assigned in here, more teachers are considering doing the video pass offs, which will impact us a lot,” Whipple says. Tingey also notes that students now are spending longer amounts of time in the lab as they practice the pass offs.

However, Whipple says that they will adapt to the changes, and that the benefits that students get from both individually practicing in the lab and from receiving help from the TA’s continue to be tremendous.

“The ability to practice is huge, and the ability to practice with someone who has experience is even better,” she says.

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