Teaching Strategies for the Simulation Lab

Simulation is the perfect step between the classroom and clinical experience with actual patients. However, even simulation has limitations, precisely because it’s not real. It gives students limited realistic human interaction. Simulation lacks the presence of physiological symptoms, and, knowing that no one is at risk, students may not take it seriously.

As a result, it’s important for nursing programs that using simulation to know their challenges and explore their options. Simulation is the future of nursing education, so challenges will need to be overcome and the right strategies adopted.

Challenges to simulation as a teaching strategy include initial capital expenditures, faculty development, and ongoing support. As simulation becomes the norm in nursing education, these barriers will be lowered. The return on investment for a sim lab will prove to be worth the initial costs; and support from faculty, administration, and technical departments, once developed, will continually improve.

Types of simulation and simulators

    PC-based simulation is more or less enhanced classroom learning. It is flexible, affordable, and accommodating to many levels of learning. However, it provides zero physical interactivity and no experiential learning. While it can be a good entry point for nursing programs, it cannot be the only version of simulation available to students.

    Role playing, while another low-cost, low-fidelity option, is beneficial for education in team-building, patient education, and other scenarios where communication is key.

    Partial task trainers replicate part of a system or process, and are good for practicing repetitive procedures. Intubation manikins, IV arms, suture kits, and like solutions are cost-effective options because they are portable, sustainable, and standard.

    Complex task trainers are computer-generated virtual reality scenarios that focus on specific, high skill procedures such as surgery, scoping, and IV or central line catheterization. These haptic systems are tactile and responsive, but can also be quite expensive. As of yet, these sophisticated systems are rare in nursing education.

    Integrated simulators, also known as human patient simulators (HSP) or manikins, are increasingly common, increasingly affordable, and increasingly sophisticated. Whole body manikins bring a level of physical interactivity and realistic, experiential learning to sim labs.

    Standardized patients (SP) are real people who volunteer or are paid to act the part of patients. While they provide another level of realism, especially for interpersonal and emotional responses, they are limited in how they can present to students. They can’t, for example, present with true disease states, therefore limiting believability.

    Hybrid simulations are a mix of SPs and manikins, for example in a pediatric scenario, that can bring the best of both worlds to a sim lab – true interpersonal communications, plus a responsive physical model that can be fully acted upon without risk.

    Full-mission simulation is a created, immersive scenario that is complex and usually involves a team, manikins, SPs, moulage, and a range of diagnostic and medical equipment. Full-mission simulations are often deployed in military, EMS, and first responder training programs. They can include disaster scenarios with mass casualties, and can truly enhance leadership and teamwork skills.

Here at Pocket Nurse we are excited to see the development of simulation in nursing education and other allied healthcare education programs. Simulated scenarios benefit students and patients, and they will only get better as they are used more widely. Some schools even make it fun and competitive, and recruit students from all different years with different levels of experience.

For Pocket Nurse simulation solutions, please visit our website.

Source: Simulation Techniques to Bridge the Gap Between Novice and Competent Healthcare Professionals, Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

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