Healthcare students from Blue Ridge Community College and Wingate University simulate a hospital as a collaborative education experience on April 12, 2024.

Hospital Simulation Prepares Blue Ridge CC and Wingate University Students for Life-saving Professions

Featured Photo: Healthcare students from Blue Ridge Community College and Wingate University simulate a hospital as a collaborative education experience on April 12, 2024. (Photo by: Benjamin Rickert.)


HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – Healthcare students at Blue Ridge Community College and Wingate University experienced the reality of patient needs in a variety of bustling healthcare settings thanks to a detailed simulation exercise held Friday, April 12. The schools transformed the first and second floors of the Health Sciences Center in downtown Hendersonville into a mock hospital including an emergency room, medical-surgical unit, operating room, inpatient and outpatient pharmacy, two urgent care units, and even simulated the transport of patients to the facility.

“We have a unique learning environment here in Hendersonville with a variety of programs and learners,” said Michelle Chaplin, associate dean of academic affairs for Wingate’s Hendersonville Campus. “Combining them all into one simulation exercise is hugely beneficial for their personal development and growth, and it helps to prepare them to work as a team in treating patients in real life scenarios after graduation.”

“Simulation is a tool that can encourage student confidence by letting them rehearse all of the knowledge and skills learned at the didactic level within the safety of a controlled environment,” explained Blue Ridge associate degree nursing instructor Robyn Dixon, RN. “There is no risk to the patients, and any mistakes can just be part of the learning experience.”

Nursing instructor Robyn Dixon, RN, (left) speaks with a Blue Ridge student during a hospital simulation exercise in April of 2024.
Nursing instructor Robyn Dixon, RN, (left) speaks with a Blue Ridge student during a hospital simulation exercise in April of 2024.

The three-hour exercise included Blue Ridge’s nursing and surgical technology students and Wingate’s pharmacy and physician assistant (PA) students, as well as 25 “patients” played by student and volunteer actors. Each patient suffered from different illnesses or injuries, and the healthcare students responded in the same way that would be required of them in a real life-saving scenario.

Dixon explained that enabling communication between the students was a key goal of the simulation.

“Many times in clinical work, students are focused on helping the nurses or providers with specific tasks, so the conversation is minimal,” she said. “Here, it’s more about that interdisciplinary conversation between our PA, pharmacy, nursing and surgical technology students. Before they go out into the real world and lead those conversations, they get to practice their skills here in a simulation.”

Nationwide, health care occupation employment is projected to grow 19 percent between 2014 and the end of 2024, adding more jobs than any other group of occupations. 

At Blue Ridge Community College, students pursue degrees and workforce credentials in a variety of healthcare programs important to healthcare facilities locally and across North Carolina. The college also offers transfer-ready degree programs to enable students to continue their learning at four-year universities across the state, including at Wingate. Information about all of Blue Ridge’s healthcare programs is available at www.blueridge.edu/healthcare

Wingate University’s Hendersonville campus offers a fully accredited Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) program and Masters of Physician Assistant (PA) studies. Both programs emphasize small classes, a student-centered environment, service to the community and real-life experiences in problem-solving and application of skills. Learn more at www.wingate.edu.

The simulation exercise was sponsored by UNC Health Pardee, and the last similar exercise took place in 2019. Blue Ridge and Wingate currently share the Health Sciences Center with UNC Health Pardee in Hendersonville.


About Wingate University
Wingate University is a lab of difference-making that serves more than 3,300 students in North Carolina and offers 60 degree pathways, including 37 undergraduate majors, 10 pre-professional tracks and five dual-degree programs. Graduate students choose from seven master’s and five doctoral programs. Founded in 1896, the University is home to the Cannon College of Arts and Sciences, the Levine College of Health Sciences, the Byrum School of Business, the Thayer School of Education, and the School of Sport Sciences. The University’s motto is “Faith, Knowledge, Service.” Learn more at www.wingate.edu. OneDog, #OneDog, and One Day One Dog are registered trademarks of Wingate University. 

About Blue Ridge Community College: Blue Ridge Community College is a two-year, post-secondary institution that elevates the educational experience to prepare students for 21st century success in the workplace or at four-year colleges and universities. Providing real-life, affordable, and accessible education, the College offers more than 200 degrees, diplomas, and certificates; more than 200 online courses; and fast-tracked job training. To learn more about Blue Ridge Community College, visit blueridge.edu.