May 3, 2008

Proposed: A Nursing Simulation Specialist

Simulation has always been a part of nursing education. Technical skills have been practiced on models for as long as there have been nursing schools. Newer models have computer-controlled simulation of breathing and circulation. They also have more life-like skin, wounds, and orifices. These simulators are widely praised for helping practice critical care experiences such as cardiac arrest, intubation, or respiratory failure. What seems to be lost is discussion on where these tools fit into nursing education, and how they should best be used. Many schools are seeking funding to buy simulators for US$50K and up; but much simulation can be done at no cost for machinery. 

The heart of nursing practice is interpersonal communication. That communication includes collecting data, interpretation of the data, and confirmation of your conclusions. Simulating these situations in complex and costly in development, but not in implementation. Also, many technical skills can be taught using simpler, more specialized models which may or may not have computer control.

Nurse educators must think beyond just buying a fancy human-sized, computer-controlled, life-like model. We need to think of how simulation of real life can help students learn both the physical and psychosocial aspects of nursing care in situations that need practice. We need to think of how and when simulation is best for learning, without getting over-enamored with the technology of simulation. 

What we need are nursing simulation specialists who can specialize in the creation and pedagogical research of how to best use simulators in nursing education.

5 comments: said...

So what is your proposal? A white paper? Formal training, certification perhaps? I am a nursing instructor, lab coordinator at a college of nursing in Georgia. We use (quite extensively) simulation in our clinical for students and for practice, demo of skills. We have had positive outcomes and feedback from students.

How can I help?
Please contact

Brent Thompson, DNSc, RN said...

My proposal is that a new specialty in nursing education is needed. There are many questions about the purpose, pedagogy, and outcomes that have not been studied scientifically. We have lots of reports of individuals who use simulation, but there is practically no rigorous research. We are at a similar stage where computer-based education was about 20 years ago.

The level of work that is needed should probably be a doctoral degree in nursing-simulation education.

Brett said...

Hello all,

I find your statement of a specialized Doctorate both refreshing and dissappointing at the same time...we as nurses are always evaluating the needs of those under our care or direction and then find ways to meet the shortcomings. If we as nurse Educators are to meet the needs of the students, should we not first learn to be educators? Meaning, we are obligated to evaluate our own shortcomings like, viewing the learning model as "Pedagogy" instead of Androgogy. As soon as we change our perspective, it will broaden our responsibilities as educators to maintain currency in all aspects of the delivery process, with respect to the current classroom demographic with insistence on evidence based practice. It is indeed the latter that must be continually sought after as nurses and educators, if we are as professionals to stay dynamically current.

Brett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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