Most nursing schools have simulation labs in addition to the skills lab. Once their students have been introduced to the skills lab, they’ll be ready to take that next step in their clinical practice right on campus.
Human patient simulation has become a common teaching method that provides very realistic clinical practice. In sim labs, high-fidelity medical mannequins are programmed to react much the same as a “live” patient, giving students excellent opportunities to practice using the nursing process in managing various patient conditions without placing real humans at risk.
In simulation laboratories, students can practice their ability to assess, plan, intervene and evaluate caring for patients with a variety of health dysfunctions. Simulation is not a substitute for faculty supervised patient care, but it is a very beneficial teaching strategy for assisting students in learning to provide safe, competent, and hands-on practice.
The boards of nursing in each state prescribe their own regulations regarding clinical simulation. Some are very prescriptive and require a specific number of hours be spent in clinical practice; others may not set specific clock-hour requirements but stress the need for adequate practice to insure students are safe practitioners.
Most boards of nursing allow some required clinical practice to be done via simulation, with the average for simulation practice permitted at about 25 percent. A few states, such as New York, don’t count any simulation experiences for required clinical time. Where it is allowed, the simulation must be clearly linked to the student learning outcomes and course objectives.
A number of YouTube postings demonstrate the use of simulation in nursing. A good simulation overview can be found at Memorial Health Simulation Center (http://bit.ly/16jIgRZ), while use of simulation in managing patients is available at Case Study in Managing a Trauma Patient Using Simulation (http://bit.ly/11QoMRD).
The National League for Nursing’s Simulation Innovation Resource Center is an excellent site to learn about simulation, or you can visit www.fortis.edu to learn more about Fortis’ renowned nursing simulation network.
Robert L. Anders, Dr.PH, CS, CNAA, ANEF, FAAN is Vice President of Nursing at Fortis.