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Cutting-Edge Course: Inclusive, High-Tech Learning Sets UR's Obstetric Nursing Class Apart

  By Gianluca D'Elia
  Friday, July 21, 2023

This story is part of a series called Cutting-Edge Courses, where NURSING Magazine takes readers inside the School of Nursing’s classrooms to highlight interesting, innovative courses that are making an impact.


Earlier this year, Nicole Goodnough ’23N was among the first nursing students to engage in a birth simulation with the School of Nursing’s new high-fidelity maternal care mannequin. By the end of the summer, she will be practicing as a full-time labor and delivery nurse at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Two of the reasons she enjoyed her experience in the course were the faculty and the technology she and her classmates had access to. She credits the School of Nursing’s obstetrical nursing course for helping her achieve her dream job.

“It really is so incredible to be able to experience hands-on learning without the fear of making mistakes that will harm your patient,” Goodnough said. “We got to learn in the new simulation rooms, where it is safe to make those mistakes and learn from them.”

The course, titled “Nursing Care and Health Promotion for Childbearing Clients and Their Families,” is constantly evolving to address the needs of today’s patient population, and to harness the School’s newest technology and expanded building.

The course has thrived under the direction of Instructor of Clinical Nursing Jennifer Truax, MS, RNC-OB, C-EFM, and Associate Professor Luis Rosario-McCabe, DNP, RN, CNE, CNL, WHNP-BC, who have taken the course to new heights.

Partnering with the School of Nursing’s Education Innovation Team (EdIT), Truax and Rosario-McCabe have sought to enhance the course experience in numerous ways through digital learning.

Before the course begins, pre-learning takes place on the eLearning tool Rise360. Truax has also made didactic learning more interactive by utilizing AhaSlides, a presentation software with features such as live polls, quizzes, real-time charts, and word clouds.

Modules on fetal assessment take place on iPads, with each element broken down to help students understand it at the granular level. It’s typically one of the most challenging concepts in the class, but with the right tools, Truax said her students have been able to assess a fetal monitoring strip within two hours.

Last semester, Truax transformed the third floor’s clinical learning rooms into escape rooms, where students had to utilize their knowledge from the class to decode clues and unlock boxes as they helped a client.

“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had designing active learning for students,” Truax said.

Opportunities to practice in the School of Nursing’s new skills lab and simulation suites, often with high-fidelity mannequins, have also been highlights of the course. Last summer, the School introduced its first maternal care patient simulator, NOELLE®, which includes a mother and two babies to practice providing care before, during and after delivery.

Sarah Cox, in a white and blue nursing uniform, in the SON skills lab.“Using the new building was incredible for simulation,” said Sarah Cox ’23N who is starting a new role as a labor and delivery nurse at Strong Memorial Hospital in August. As a professional doula and mother of three, she'd been looking forward to taking an obstetric nursing course from the very beginning of the program. 

“During OB, we had the opportunity to catch a baby, and it was an exciting experience where we got to do something brand new in a safe and supportive environment.”

One of the course’s most unique assets is its increased inclusion of LGBTQ+ patient scenarios, through which students can prepare to work with same-sex couples, transgender men, or non-binary individuals who are having a baby.

“Not all female-bodied people identify as being women, so it’s important to ensure an inclusive women’s and gender-related health course,” Rosario-McCabe said. “That inclusivity is what is so cool about our course and the School of Nursing.”

The curriculum is reflective of experiences future nurses could have with patients, Truax said.

Bringing what actually occurs in clinical practice into a simulation environment allows students to interact with the various clientele that they will see in real life,” Truax said.

These classroom experiences will ultimately help students have a better understanding of the needs and challenges of various populations they work with, while challenging them to reconsider their preconceived notions, the professors said.

“One of the goals we have for all of our baccalaureate students is for them to be global nurses,” Rosario-McCabe said. They can take what they learn here and change not only nursing, but health care. Our current generation of students is amped up to do that.”

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