Steele Innovative Learning Center

A safe place to learn by doing...

Students Perfect Clinical Skills in the SILC

The Steele Innovative Learning Center (SILC) is a safe environment for acquiring, rehearsing and perfecting skills needed in clinical nursing practice. In the SILC, students integrate formal classroom learning with essential psychomotor skills.

To simulate clinical environments and enhance teaching, the SILC offers an array of tools allowing students to simulate nursing care ranging from basic skill acquisition to participation in complex, realistic scenarios designed to enhance higher-level clinical thinking and actions. We have three Sim Man™ manikins (human patient simulators) in individual critical care bays which are computer-controlled. The manikins have audible blood pressures (BPs), palpable pulses, and heart, lung and bowel sounds. The manikin's chest also rises and falls to simulate realistic breathing.

Three Virtual IV simulators assist students in mastering the technique of IV insertion. The computer simulators have realistic graphics and provide detailed, individualized feedback to the student at the end of each attempted case.

Full-time Instructor and Student Support

In the SILC, two full-time registered nurses assist clinical instructors with scheduled, structured lab times, as well as offering supervision and support to individual students and small groups.

Service to Tucson and Beyond

A valuable part of the College of Nursing, the SILC is also an important community resource, offering school tours and hosting national and international visitors. Additionally, the SILC is connected to Master Control in BioCommunications, giving the center real-time video conferencing capabilities which reach across the state of Arizona and beyond. This connectivity in turn allows the SILC to integrate with the Arizona Telemedicine Program statewide network.


College of Nursing, second floor
Rooms 250A-D and 275A-C

  • 275 A- Stretchers
  • 275 B- Beds with Mannequins
  • 275 C- IV lab
  • 250- Glass Doors High Acuity

Phone: 520-626-4283

More About the SILC:

The mission of the SILC is to support faculty and student learning objectives, which are ultimately related to delivering comprehensive patient care. The SILC accomplishes this mission by providing a safe learning environment in which both simulation of clinical experiences and practice of discrete skill elements can occur. The SILC serves both traditional and accelerated undergraduate nursing students as well as graduate students.

A necessary component of competent patient care is the ability to master technologic and psychomotor skills. The SILC provides resources that allow students to practice basic as well as advanced nursing skills and procedures. Determining the specific equipment required to accomplish course objectives is primarily a collaborative process between the SILC staff and faculty members. Requests for new or replacement equipment may be initiated by students, faculty or the SILC staff, and are then prioritized according to budget considerations as well as benefit to the greatest number of students. Keeping abreast of changing technology, while challenging, is essential in providing a realistic simulation environment geared towards maximizing student comfort and competence in the clinical setting.

Simulation of the patient care environment also includes reinforcement of cognitive skills necessary for clinical decision-making. Students have the opportunity to integrate conceptual knowledge with psychomotor skills in the SILC via participation in realistic patient care simulation scenarios. These simulations, which encourage critical thinking, prioritization and evaluation, are developed by the course faculty members and facilitated by the faculty and/or the SILC staff. Students also practice organization and synthesis of information by independently completing structured learning exercises designed by the faculty. A proposed goal for the SILC is to develop and implement an overarching, integrated simulation program that supports the objectives of the undergraduate curriculum.

Resources for learning in the SILC must accommodate the full range of student needs. Our three computerized simulation SimMan manikins are an invaluable resource in promoting psychomotor and cognitive skill development as they can be programmed with a number of scenarios of varying complexity requiring increasing sophistication in assessment, clinical judgment and intervention. Students can practice IV insertion skills on our Virtual IV computers. Open laboratory hours also contribute to reinforcement of student learning since students can practice independently, with partners or with supervision from the SILC staff.

The SILC also assists the Office of Student Affairs in promoting the visibility of the College of Nursing. Visitors who have toured the SILC include members of the local Tucson community, such as high school and community college students, alumni and potential donors to the University of Arizona. National and international visitors, while less common, are not unknown. Students and faculty from the University of Arizona often borrow equipment from the SILC when they participate in community events, such as health fairs, Girl Scout fairs and recruiting events. Additional means of showcasing the College of Nursing may include hosting tours for specific interest groups, such as simulation conferences or representatives of colleges and universities interested in creating simulation laboratories.

The SILC is currently staffed by Joanne Douthit, MN, RN, CPN (Interim Coordinator), and Yvette Mathesen, RN, BSN (Assistant Coordinator).

For more information please contact:

Joanne Douthit, MN, RN, CPN
Interim Coordinator
(520) 626-5696


Yvette Mathesen, RN, BSN
Assistant Coordinator
(520) 626-8942