Simulated Learning Experiences
Simulation learning provides students the opportunity to practice and master their skills in a structured setting. Students who engage in simulation learning activities demonstrate both personal and professional growth (Swanson, Schaeffer-Fraase, & Riggins, 2019). The purpose of this discussion is to describe a previous learning experience and to explain how simulation learning would enhance my learning experience and would more effectively achieve the same objectives.
Nursing Education in 1984
My nursing school did not incorporate simulation centers or structured skills labs in their curriculum. Instead, we learned our skills on live people – either a classmate or a hospitalized patient. I learned how to give injections and perform venipunctures on my classmates. However, the first time I inserted a foley catheter or a nasogastric tube was on a patient. Even worse, as nursing students, we were assigned relatively stable patients during our clinical rotations. While it is logical to assign a stable patient to a student, this practice ensured nursing students were unable to learn their learning skills before entering the profession. As a result of this educational approach, I did not learn how to start an IV, prepare and hang IV solutions, draw blood, connect a patient to telemetry, perform wound care or any of the other essential nursing skills until I was on the job. This complete lack of preparation for my role as a nurse created a steep learning curve. However, I was not alone in my struggles as the clinical education I received was typical of nursing school at that time.
Retroactively Improving Nursing Education in 1984
Simulation learning using mannequins was introduced in 1911 when a life-sized doll was made to teach nurses how to turn, transfer, and dress patients (Aebersold, 2016). Just three years later, in 1914, the mannequin was upgraded to allow nurses to learn injection skills (Aebersold, 2016). However, even though these mannequins were introduced over 70 years before I entered nursing school, the nursing schools in my area had yet to include simulation learning in their curriculum. I entered the nursing profession fully aware that I did not possess the skills I needed to provide quality patient care. Students who engage in simulation learning are provided the opportunity to develop their skills in a controlled setting (Cant & Cooper, 2017). Although simulation technology in 1984 was limited compared what is available today, my nursing school could have placed a hospital bed in a room along with the basic equipment found in an inpatient hospital room and a mannequin. Additionally, rather than practicing simple skills such as turning and repositioning the patient, the faculty could have created scenarios for the students to address such as finding the patient on the floor and Code Blue situations. Students who engage in simulation learning activities have increased clinical self-efficacy and decreased anxiety (Shahsavari et al., 2017). Additionally, a direct correlation has been identified between simulation performance and clinical practice (Judd, Fethney, Alison, Waters, & Gordon, 2018). Had I been prepared with the skills and critical thinking skills provided in simulation learning, I would have been a much safer and more accomplished graduate nurse.
Simulation learning has become an integral part of nursing education. However, as with all teaching methods, simulation learning methods must continually be evaluated and modified to ensure the activities are appropriate, and learning objectives are met. After all, not only does the nursing student benefit from simulation learning, but their future clinical settings and patients do so as well.
Aebersold, M. (2016). The history of simulation and its impact on the future. AACN Advanced Critical Care, 27(1), 56-61. doi:10.4037/aacnacc2016436
Cant, R. P., & Cooper, S. J. (2017). Use of simulation-based learning in undergraduate nurse education: An umbrella systematic review. Nurse Education Today, 49, 63-71. doi:10.10 16/j.nedt.2016.11.015
Judd, B., Fethney, J., Alison, J., Waters, D., & Gordon, C. (2018). Performance in simulation is associated with clinical practice performance in physical therapist students. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 32(1), 94-99. doi:10.1097/JTE.0000000000000024
Shahsavari, H., Ghiyasvandian, S., Houser, M. L., Zakerimoghadam, M., Kermanshahi, S. S., & Torabi, S. (2017). Effect of a clinical skills refresher course on the clinical performance, anxiety and self-efficacy of the final year undergraduate nursing students. Nurse Education in Practice, 27, 151-156. doi:10.1016/j.nepr.2017.08.006
Swanson, K., Schaeffer-Fraase, K., & Riggins, J. (2019). Peer teachers: Learning in the nursing skills lab. In Sigma’s 30th International Nursing Research Congress. Calgary, Canada: Author.