Nursing is a high-risk profession, and the pressure’s on to get things right. A recent Johns Hopkins study claims that medical error causes more than 250,000 deaths per year in the United States. Other reports claim that number is as high as 440,000. To prevent these accidental deaths from happening, there’s an increasing emphasis on bridging the gap between skills learned in the classroom and clinical practice. And for good reason. No student wants to become a statistic.
Simulation Can Help
Students need to practice and develop essential skills in a safe environment. Mannequins, recording devices, and medical equipment have greatly enhanced the simulation experience, allowing nursing students to hone their abilities and promote patient safety. Better yet, students can prepare for the workforce without harming real patients.
It hasn’t always been this way. Nursing students used to rely heavily on clinical experiences, learning through real-life scenarios. But obtaining high-quality clinical experiences has become more challenging, leaving nursing graduates unprepared. According to the 2017 publication “A Crisis in Competency,” only 23 percent of newly graduate nurses demonstrate entry-level competencies and practice readiness. As a result, nursing educators have been forced to find an alternative to clinical experiences to prepare their students.
Why not try a hands-on experience? Simulation provides an opportunity to interact with patients in life-like situations. It promotes critical thinking and reasoning, helping equip students for the demands they’ll face as qualified medical professionals.
Simulation promotes critical thinking and reasoning, helping equip students for the demands they’ll face as qualified medical professionals. Click To Tweet
But Simulation Isn’t Cheap
Each component is typically worth tens of thousands of dollars. Lab equipment is much more than a bed and some basic mannequins. Now most labs include technology that requires constant updates and maintenance.
Yet such a realistic environment forces students to think on their feet. Although simulation labs don’t replace clinical experiences, they help students put classroom concepts into practice. Simulation provides a safe learning environment to improve clinical performance in undergraduate medical students.
While there are many benefits to nursing simulation, some still argue that money would be better spent on clinical experiences, higher pay for nurses, or better patient care. That leaves us with one question: how can simulation be improved?
We’ve done the research and put together a list of four surefire ways to improve the simulation experience. These methods will help your students put their theoretical knowledge into practice and enhance their skills, leaving them better prepared for the workforce. Here’s what you can do:
1. Provide Faculty Training
Because of costs (scheduling, instructors, space, etc.), clinical education takes place in groups. In fact, many healthcare practices are conducted in a team setting. Simulation labs foster communication, repeated practice opportunities, and the teamwork skills necessary to function in the healthcare environment.
But this can’t be done without a great lab instructor. Staff need to be trained on how to use simulation technology, which may be an extensive process. To improve the simulation lab’s operational efficiency, it is crucial to prepare your faculty.
One effective way to train staff members is through group workshops. As instructors become comfortable using the equipment, it may be useful to incorporate bits of simulation technology into specific courses that they’re teaching. Providing faculty with the correct knowledge and skills will enhance student learning and allow simulation to reach its full potential. According to Carol Fowler Durham and Kathryn R. Alden, “The patient simulation is only as effective as the faculty who are using it.”
Even if your staff is highly capable, extra training may help optimize the simulation experience. Durham and Alden affirm, “Faculty who see the potential benefits of patient simulation may be more likely to want to use the simulator in their teaching. Those who are innovative, creative, and enjoy learning through active participation may be more apt to try the patient simulator as a teaching strategy.”
2. Design a Rubric
Many students struggle with the fact that simulation isn’t real. Some students learn how to master the simulation but struggle with real-world application for treating actual patients. How can you help students take responsibility for their actions during simulation labs? One word: rubrics.
Simulation and curriculum should go hand in hand, and rubrics help integrate course concepts during simulations. A well-written rubric should outline expected learning outcomes, guiding students to anticipate what’s ahead and review necessary class materials beforehand. This helps bridge the gap between clinical practices and skills learned in the classroom, allowing students to see the value of instruction.
According to Laura Gantt, simulation grading rubrics also allow faculty “to assess students on critical thinking and contextual components of patient care scenarios.” Rubrics help the instructor gauge individual progress and provide motivation for students to learn from the experience.
3. Improve the Technology You Already Have
So you have patient simulator hardware and software, along with fancy cameras that capture different parts of the room. But what do you do with the footage upon completing simulation?
One solution is to upload it to GoReact for easy video feedback.
The #1 video software for skill development, GoReact is the perfect way to give your students direction and help them learn from simulation. If you already have cameras in the lab, put them to use! Have your students upload their recordings to GoReact so you can provide time-coded feedback. This is a great way to help your students swiftly improve.
Don’t have the necessary equipment? Simulation lab technology is a scarce resource when considering a large population of nursing students. In truth, most students use simulation labs only a few times each semester. Thankfully you don’t need fancy cameras to enjoy the benefits of video.
With just a smartphone or webcam, students can capture video of themselves performing lifesaving procedures. They can review the footage and record as many times as they want. The best part? You don’t even have to be there. GoReact allows you to grade your students’ clinical simulations anytime and anywhere. If your students want to view themselves from several angles, they can use multiple devices. Tell them to grab a few friends and head to the lab. More devices equals more recordings.
To find out more about GoReact in nursing, you can read all about Dr. Bumbach’s experiences at UF and how video has changed the way he teachers.You don’t need fancy cameras to enjoy the benefits of video. With just a smartphone or webcam, students can capture video of themselves performing lifesaving procedures. Click To Tweet
4. Hold a Debriefing Session
Now that you’ve completed the simulation, it’s time to tie it all together. Conscious learning occurs primarily during the debriefing session, where students gain new insights.
In the document “The Use of Simulation for Training Teamwork Skills in Health Care: How Low Can You Go?” Beaubien and Baker stress the importance of feedback in maximizing simulation. While a debriefing session requires time, involvement, and guidance, it is key to improving future performance. It also provides a great opportunity for instructors to emphasize key learning points and boost students’ confidence in their skills.
Participants can gauge the effectiveness of the simulation by breaking down the process and identifying positive and negative aspects. By doing this, students can learn from their mistakes and improve over time.
By adopting these four practices, students can bridge the theory-practice gap and fearlessly prepare for the workforce. Nursing may be a challenging field, but there’s no better gift you can give to your students than arming them with excellent skills and the confidence to succeed.
If you’d like to learn more about resources for nursing educators, you may also enjoy our article 6 Ways to Teach Nursing Skills Faster.
Kavanagh, Szweda. “A Crisis in Competency.“ Nursing Education Perspectives.
Durham, Alden. “Enhancing Patient Safety in Nursing Education Through Patient Simulation.” Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses.
Gantt. “Using the Clark Simulation Evaluation Rubric with Associate Degree and Baccalaureate Nursing Students.” Nursing Education Perspectives.
Beaubien, Baker. “The Use of Simulation For Training Teamwork Skills In Health Care.” Qual Saf Health Care.
Abby works with the content marketing team at GoReact, the best way to give feedback on student videos. She is currently studying communications at Brigham Young University. Abby has previously worked in human resources, as a custom specialist, and as a volunteer in Russia. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, cookie dough, and spending time with her family.