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Simulation to help nursing students gain public health emergency experience

| Judy Berthiaume

UW-Eau Claire nursing students will get a sense this month of what it’s like to work with multiple health care organizations during a public health emergency.

Nursing students at the university’s Eau Claire and Marshfield campuses will be part of a simulation built around a scenario that would require public health professionals to create an emergency operations center and conduct a mass flu immunization clinic.

“Emergency preparedness is critically important for future health care workers,” says Dr. Pamela Guthman, a UW-Eau Claire clinical assistant professor who teaches courses in community, public and population health. “Public health nurses are on the front lines in an emergency, so they need to be prepared to respond quickly.”

The simulation will begin at 12:10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at both the Eau Claire and Marshfield sites. Various technologies will allow students at both campuses to coordinate efforts during the simulations.

Nursing faculty are coordinating the simulation, which will involve public health professionals from the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, Eau Claire County Emergency Management, UW-Eau Claire Student Health Service and the Wood County Health Department.

The simulation will help nursing students learn about the roles and responsibilities within an incident command structure and how to conduct a mass flu immunization clinic should there be an influenza epidemic requiring an emergency immunization plan to be activated, Guthman says.

“Our nursing students need to learn about the roles, rationale and terminology that relates to emergency preparedness,” Guthman says. “Active learning through a simulation like this one will better prepare nursing students for their future work.”

During the simulation, Guthman will be at UW-Eau Claire’s nursing site in Marshfield. Guthman, along Sue Kunferman, who is the health officer from Wood County and a UW-Eau Claire clinical nursing instructor, will support the nursing students in Marshfield during the simulation.

On the campus in Eau Claire, Dr. Norah Airth-Kindree, an associate professor of nursing, and Dr. Sara Baars, a clinical assistant professor of nursing, will oversee the simulation. Nursing students in Eau Claire will interact with health care providers from UW-Eau Claire Student Health Service, as well community partners from Eau Claire County Emergency Management, Eau Claire City-County Public Health Department and Western Wisconsin Public Health Readiness Consortia.

Faculty will help students in both locations debrief and process what they learned after the simulation ends.

For more information about the nursing simulation event, contact Dr. Pamela Guthman at or 715-836-5737.