Once limited to the use of manikins, simulation education has expanded beyond task training to include experiential learning such as debriefing, which teaches students to think critically about scenarios and how they can improve them. “This deliberate practice of reflection and critical thinking is what sets simulation apart from simple task training,” the authors wrote. “It is during debriefing immediately after the scenario that knowledge truly increases.”
Simulation also encourages reflection by replacing the traditional “see one, do one, teach one” learning model with a “see one, practice, practice, practice, do one, and then teach” approach, the authors said. “Bringing simulation into the curriculum, delivering content experientially, encouraging deliberate practice, and helping students understand and reflect on their experience—this is a great evolution in nursing education.”
This evolution increasingly entails the use of virtual realities, including gaming, to enhance debriefing by offering nursing students feedback during instead of after their experience, and allowing them to chart their progress in mastering skills as they move from one level to the next, the authors reported.
Given the many ways in which simulation has evolved, the authors pointed out that most nursing schools now substitute it for direct clinical hours. Still, they called for new models of simulation education that better transfer skills to real world clinical settings and prepare nurses for practice. For example, they said, scenarios should be more realistic. Instead of involving just one or several students working with a single simulated patient, they should reflect the clinical reality of today’s complex health care environment in which nurses typically care for multiple patients simultaneously.
Scenarios should also teach nontechnical skills, such as advocating for patients who need social services, or expressing empathy toward patients and families, the authors said. Families should also have access to simulation education, to help them practice caring for loved ones at home or in outpatient settings, where so much health care is beginning to occur, they added.
The efficacy of simulation does not depend solely on its subject matter, however. Indeed, simulation is only as good as those who teach it, the authors stressed, noting that only 60 percent of nursing faculty are formally prepared to conduct simulations or debriefings. Moreover, guidelines are needed to assure consistency in the way simulation is taught, conducted, and assessed. “The explosive adoption of simulation in the health care environment has led to inconsistent implementation of this valuable learning modality,” they wrote.
Thus, they urged simulation organizations to create a shared agenda that harnesses and disseminates the best trends in simulation research. “A robust and iterative research plan is important to validate the benefits of simulation and to identify its weaknesses,” they concluded. “These findings are essential in order to shape the future of simulation education and to link it to improved patient safety outcomes.”
Read the full paper: Innovations in Simulation: Nursing Leaders’ Exchange of Best Practices.
Columbia University School of Nursing
Columbia University School of Nursing is part of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, which also includes the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, and the College of Dental Medicine. With more than 100 full-time faculty and 700 students, the School of Nursing is dedicated to educating the next generation of nurse leaders in education, research, and clinical care. The School has pioneered advanced practice nursing curricula and continues to define the role of nursing and nursing research through its PhD program which prepares nurse scientists, and its Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), one of the first clinical practice doctorate programs in the nation. Among the clinical practice areas shaped by the School’s research are the reduction of infectious disease and the use of health care informatics to improve health and health care. For more information, please visit: www.nursing.columbia.edu
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