Experiential Learning


The primary goal of the Skills Lab is to enhance the first semester nursing students’ didactic learning of nursing intervention concepts with the valuable opportunity of practicing them on adult-sized “patients.” In addition to scheduled campus lab sessions, the lab has open hours for all students in the SON. This allows practice time for any student of some of the most commonly performed fundamental skills in an acute care hospital setting.

The uniqueness of the Skills Lab is that it combines the atmosphere of the hospital environment with sophisticated learning technology. It is instrumental for insuring the success of all our nursing students as they progress throughout their baccalaureate program.

The Skills Lab physical layout accommodates various learning and teaching stations according to the needs of the students and instructor. The lab is equipped with 10 hospital beds holding “patients” (manikins) in hospital gowns and identification bands. Each bed area is equipped with an over-the-bed table, bedside table, gloves, and headwalls with simulated oxygen, air, and suction outlets as well as a container for the proper disposal of sharps. Hand-gel dispensers at every bedside serve to reinforce the importance of hand hygiene.

The “patients,” with movable limbs and replaceable parts, are recipients of a variety of nursing interventions – repositioning, injections, intravenous catheters, nasogastric tubes, foley catheters, wound care, and oxygenation therapy. The intravenous volumetric pumps and feeding pumps enhance the “hands-on” learning. A sophisticated patient lift system – donated by the Veterans Affairs Hospital – allows for patient repositioning and transfers out of bed. This is accomplished with the use of sling devices, an overhead frame, and automated hand control. Students can practice IV catheter insertion using simulated patient arms that contain veins and real IV catheters seen and used in the local hospitals.

In the center of the room is a seating area with movable tables to enhance visibility for any sized group of students. The smart classroom system accommodates both Macintosh and PC computers. There is a DVD player as well as a video/data projector and microphone for large screen projection learning. The video/data projector allows for demonstration at the bedside to be projected onto the large screen for movie-theater type visibility! Projection connections are provided for tying laptop computers or other external devices into the room’s high resolution presentation system.


The Health Assessment Laboratory, located in Adams Humanities 2122, simulates a real-world environment that enables students to develop and enhance their assessment skills using state of the art equipment and technology. The realistic practice environment instills a sense of confidence and expertise in preparation for patient care. The assessment lab supports baccalaureate, RN to BS, Advanced Practice and Clinical Nurse Specialist students.

Graduate students also use the lab to practice assessment skills using a standardized patient model. This teaching style uses actors and actresses to simulate real patients they would encounter in the clinic or hospital. These students use advanced assessment skills to obtain a health history and perform a physical exam using the appropriate examination equipment.

The lab contains 8 exam stations fully equipped to facilitate an exam as it may be performed in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Electronic equipment for taking blood pressure, pulse, and temperature are used. In addition, students develop skills in using pulse oximeters, dopplers, peak flow meters, otoscopes, and ophthalmoscopes.

The Health Assessment Lab facilitates the development of health assessment skills prior to a real patient encounter. The realistic practice environment instills a sense of confidence and expertise in preparation for patient care.

Sharp Healthcare Human Patient Simulation Center

The Sharp Healthcare Human Patient Simulation Center (HPSC) in Hepner Hall 124  is a 6 bed simulated hospital unit housed in the SDSU School of Nursing.

The HPSC opened in August of 2006 with the help of a $1M grant from Sharp Healthcare for operation of the center.

The HPSC has six CAE patient simulators, two adult, two birthing simulators, one pediatric and one infant. Equipment and supplies found in a standard hospital environment are used during each scenario to make the simulation experience as real as possible.

Clinical faculty accompany their clinical students in the simulation center to evaluate students’ performance and participate in the debriefing process.

Learning Lab

The Learning Lab is located in Adams Humanities 2128. Half of the lab is a simulated Urgent Care with four gurneys, two of which have manikins and two without, for  practicing assessment skills. Various nursing skills are also practiced on the manikins using simulated equipment and supplies.

Contact Us

SDSU School of Nursing

Adams Humanities Building 3138
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-4158