Faculty Spotlight: Cindy Fickley

Alison Juram D'Addieco -

Safety in Numbers: Cindy Fickley’s High-Tech Approach to Pediatric Dosage Education

Accuracy in pediatric dosing is critical. Unlike adult medicine, there are no standard doses. That’s why Carlow University Associate Professor Cindy Fickley utilizes high-fidelity simulation (HFS) to make sure nursing students are on the top of their games mathematically. 

“One of the major reasons that dosage errors occur in pediatrics is that the methods used to calculate dosages demand more complex knowledge and skill than those needed for adults,” Fickley says.

Carlow University Nursing Professor Cindy Fickley
 Professor Cindy Fickley discussing dosing errors with nursing students

Fickley introduced 33 Carlow nursing students to HFS in Carlow’s state-of-the art Nursing Skills Lab in the School of Nursing. Her goal was to significantly improve their medicine calculation scores. 

Working in teams of six, Fickley’s students assumed the roles of charge nurse, medication nurse, parent, doctor, unlicensed professional, and recorder. Their patients? Mannequins capable of presenting real-life consequences.  

The Nursing Skills Lab—which resembles a six-bed hospital acute care unit—enables students to practice nursing techniques on lifelike mannequins that can simulate a patient's breathing, pulse rates, and levels of consciousness. 

Carlow University's Nursing Skills Lab
 $1.5 million state-of-the-art Nursing Skills Lab with lifelike mannequins that can simulate a patient's breathing, pulse rates, and levels of consciousness

The mannequins are even programmed to say a few words to the students or writhe in pain. An instructor, standing behind double-sided glass, can control the mannequin's reactions to the students' care. 

The results of this new approach to dosage education were just what Fickley hoped for: medicine calculation scores rose significantly, averaging 55.7 percent accuracy before the simulation and 79.6 percent afterwards.

Fickley is thrilled with the results and hopes her research will inspire others to use similar practices.

“Nurse educators should extend themselves to innovative teaching methodologies to bridge theory with practice,” she says.  “Enhancing the professional practice skills of our future nurses benefits the discipline, future faculty members, and the future patients who will one day be in their care.”


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