Simulations in Nursing & Health Education

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

Simulation proves to be an effective teaching strategy in nursing education for many reasons. Read this lesson to learn about simulation application, simulated environments, and virtual reality simulation.

The Teaching Environment

Ann Marie is the newest nursing instructor at a local community college. Hoping to make a difference in the formation of future nursing professionals, she brings many new and innovative ideas to her teaching colleagues. Hesitant to make any large scale changes, the instructors compromise and agree on her suggestion to include simulation in the revised nursing student curriculum.

Use of Simulation

First, to sell the idea of simulation to her fellow colleagues, Ann Marie explains it as an educational tool to be used to bridge classroom and lecture-based learning with practice in the actual clinical environment. She further tells them that simulation has been proven to increase patient safety and boost the confidence of health care professionals when applied to the clinical environment. Ann Marie describes that the benefits of simulation are vast and positively impact the ability to:

  • Educate- provide instruction and hands-on skills practice
  • Assess- allows for evaluation of performance prior to reaching the bedside
  • Conduct research- can test new evidence-based practices
  • Impact the systems of health care as a whole- enables teams to determine safe and practical processes

Collectively, the group warms to the implementation of a simulation program for their nursing program. With their permission, Ann Marie dives further into the application of simulation within their nursing program.

The Simulated Environment

In general, simulation allows learners to practice skills, whether physical or verbal, prior to entering the clinical setting. Simulated exercises can be developed to enhance instruction from the classroom. Some of the skills Ann Marie envisions taking place within the lab include:

  • Physical assessment skills
  • Injection practice
  • Manipulation of critical clinical equipment like IV poles and tracheostomies
  • Body mechanics
  • Direct patient care

Communications skills, with appropriate scenarios based on knowledge level, can also be developed within a simulated environment.

Simulation Lab

Ann Marie explains that simulation can take place on their college campus in the empty basement of their building. She explains that equipment donated from the local hospital can be put to use and set up to appear like an actual clinical environment. In doing so, realism is enhanced, making any skills or patient care scenarios that would be taught relevant and transferrable to the actual clinical environment.

SimBaby, as pictured, is a mannequin frequently used in infant simulation exercises.
SimBaby, as pictured, is a mannequin frequently used in infant simulation exercises.

In addition to the setting and standard clinical equipment, Ann Marie petitions for the purchase of task-trainers, simulated limbs and body parts, as well as full-sized mannequins, a realistic human model, to simulate an actual patient. Ann Marie's colleagues understand that while equipment may be expensive, they can better prepare their students for the real clinical environment through simulated exposure.

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