Alumni Spotlights

College of Nursing Alum Creates Medication Administration Training System

  • on July 15, 2022
  • by Lisa McMahon
  • in

More than 7 million patients in the U.S. are impacted by medication errors every year, according to the Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives (2016). Kateri Gabriele, a 1990 graduate of Niagara University’s College of Nursing, is helping to change that.

Gabriele is co-founder and CEO of sim2grow, selling a simulated medication administration system that enables student nurses to dispense and document medication for simulated patients in on-campus clinical settings.

Gabriele developed the system with a colleague after working as a nursing lab coordinator at Genesee Community College. The Youngstown, N.Y., native said she took the job for its convenience, but soon realized she enjoyed simulation. So much so, in fact, that she earned her master’s degree in healthcare simulation, becoming one of the first to hold one in the U.S.

As Gabriele progressed through her courses, she would implement what she learned in her lab at GCC. When the college constructed a new building that would house the simulation lab, she drew on this knowledge to spearhead the design of the space, organize the labs, and incorporate best practices into the curriculum. But one area she always found to be lacking was medication administration.

The frustration she experienced in using the medication dispensing unit at GCC motivated her to collaborate with her colleague to develop their own system, which they launched in 2015. Their sim2grow training system is an iPad-based system that enables nursing students to simulate all the steps of medication administration and documentation.

“It takes the students from the med room, where they’re extracting the medication out of the dispensing unit, all the way to the patient’s bedside, where they can scan the patient’s barcoded wristband and the medication tag to make sure that it’s a match,” Gabriele said.

If the wrong patient’s wristband or the wrong medication is scanned, the system shows that an error has been made, giving students the opportunity to find and correct the mistake, an experience they would not have in a hospital setting.

“There are quite a few products on the market that are on the dispensing side of the medication administration process, and there are other products that are on the documentation side, but to have a product that blends both those sides of the equation provides the whole process to the students so that they really understand what they need to do before they take care of patients in the hospital,” Gabriele said. 

In the years since the first system was sold, additional features have been added in response to customer input and to align with current practice. In 2020, Gabriele left her job to take on full-time responsibilities as CEO of sim2grow and focus on sales.

Reflecting on her time at Niagara, where a work-study job in the College of Nursing’s practice lab foreshadowed her career in simulation, Gabriele says that one of the most important things she learned was that nursing was a profession with seemingly limitless options.

“In Nursing 100, they talked about the fact that your nursing career can go in so many directions, that you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself into one specialty if that’s not what you want to do,” Gabriele recalled.  She took this advice to heart, working in several areas throughout her career.

“I’m the perfect example,” she said. “I went from med surg, to research, to education, to simulation, and now, to entrepreneurship. So the sky’s the limit.”