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Nursing program presents at prestigious international conference

Her flight was canceled.

Dr. Chita Farrar, director of the Austin Peay State University School of Nursing, had just spent several days in Vancouver, where the July weather was a little grayer and a little colder than in Tennessee, and she was eager to return home.

But that didnt happen, following an overnight layover in Dallas, for another day. When she finally arrived back on campus, someone asked Farrar about her trip. She was unexpectedly upbeat.

Our flight was canceled. We had bad weather. Was it worth it? Yes it was, she said.
Her flight was canceled.

Dr. Chita Farrar, director of the Austin Peay State University School of Nursing, had just spent several days in Vancouver, where the July weather was a little grayer and a little colder than in Tennessee, and she was eager to return home.

But that didn't happen, following an overnight layover in Dallas, for another day. When she finally arrived back on campus, someone asked Farrar about her trip. She was unexpectedly upbeat.

“Our flight was canceled. We had bad weather. Was it worth it? Yes it was,” she said.

That's because her visit to Canada (originally scheduled for Cancun, by the way, but rescheduled due to fears of swine flu) took her to the prestigious Sigma Theta Tau International Research Congress, where she and three faculty members showed off the work being done with APSU's nursing simulation labs.

Sigma Theta Tau, a nursing honor society, hosts the congress every year at locations around the globe, accepting only the top research abstracts to give oral presentations.

“Because its worldwide, it's very competitive to get accepted for presentation,” Farrar said.

She was one of those select few. Farrar presented, along with faculty members Grace Moodt, Debbie Ellison and Faye Zeigler, to a packed auditorium APSU's research into using simulation labs to boost the critical thinking skills of nursing students. The University operates state-of-the-art labs in the McCord Building that give students hands-on simulations of real world nursing. When they fall behind on their studies, Farrar has found these simulations help them grasp some of the field's difficult concepts.

“We had some students in our Adult II class that were failing,” she said. “We decided to do some remediation using simulation. It's interactive and fun.”

After the simulation, the students were retested. Their scores went up. Improving students' comprehension is a topic of interest for teachers around the world. When the four APSU faculty members finished their presentation on the school's simulation lab, congress attendees followed them outside, continuing to ask questions.

“APSU now has international recognition for our simulation lab,” Farrar said. “The PowerPoint presentation will be published in the Sigma Theta Tau International online library.”

The trip was definitely worth it, she reiterated. She left the chilly, gray weather of Vancouver, warmed by the accolades of a successful presentation, and returned to Clarksville, where the weather had turned unseasonably cold and rainy.

Farrar, however, didn't seem to mind. -- Charles Booth