Simulation in Nursing


In both practice and education, simulation in the nursing field has improved everything from treatments to patient outcomes.

Simulation—it’s something that nurses first encounter while still studying in nursing school, but that’s not where it
ends. Experienced nurses continue to use simulation, for example, to improve practice, communication between
health care providers, the cooperation between interprofessional teams, and to teach/learn new techniques.
Before we explore its importance, let’s first understand what simulation is and the kinds that are being used today.

Imitation—the Safest Form of Practice
“Health care simulation is the imitation or replication of patient care situations for the purposes of education, assessment, and/ or research to enhance patient safety and quality patient care delivery,” says Michelle Olech Smith, DNP, RN, CHSE (Certified in Health Care Simulation by the Society for Simulation in Health Care), the program director of simulation at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage & Delnor Hospitals.

Simulation also helps build confidence and competence in the nurses who are learning with it, says Celeste M. Alfes, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN, CNE, CHSE-A, FAAN, co-editor of Clinical Simulations for the Advanced Practice Nurse: A Comprehensive Guide for Faculty, Students, and Simulation Staff. “Simulation has become a widespread
methodology because it is a hands-on learning strategy that engages all sense of the learner,” says Alfes, who is also an associate professor and director of the Center for Nursing Education, Simulations, & Innovation at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University. “During the COVID-19 crisis, simulation has become a tremendous tool for faculty and learners alike.” “Simulation is an effective strategy in acute care because it
prepares staff for high-risk situations that may be encountered infrequently,” says Joni L. Dirks, MSN, RN NPD-BC, CCRN-K, manager of professional development at Providence Health Care. With simulation, those involved can slow down the learning, ask students to reflect on what they’re doing, and even stop what’s going on if students want to ask clarifying questions, says Jean S. Coffey, PhD, APRN, FAAN, director of the Plymouth State University Nursing Program, who has taught simulation in several nursing programs.

Simulation also provides nurses and nursing students with the opportunity to fail—in a safe environment—due to their inexperience with the procedure, without putting an actual patient in danger, says Cindy Cain, DNP, RN, CNS, CCRN-K, clinical practice specialist, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (ACCN). “They can practice clinical responses or high-risk skills in an expertly guided setting with feedback for improvement.”