Traditional education for nurses stresses clinical experience and practice as a part of the nurse’s training. Some schools are trying simulated experiences as a replacement. Studies seem to indicate it is just as good. This approach is something new for nursing education. So, let’s review where it comes from and its short history.
Traditional education means classroom education and practical experience
Nurses normally have completed their university education with rigorous classroom learning coupled with live clinical experience. With an increasing demand for nurses already underway, this means increasing demand in tertiary education for clinical experience placements.
The demand for nurses is high but there are not enough nurses
The demand for clinical experience as part of education outstrips supply. This means that a nursing shortage is made worse because of limited posts to receive clinical training. Nursing schools need a way to train nurses effectively within a frame where there is a shortage of training placements.
Simulation is training nurses using models
In response to this situation, some schools are looking at the option of simulation. This means using mannequins and other technology instead of a living patient. Simulation provides for increased opportunities in nursing education. Simulation can happen in a variety of ways.
A mannequin can be a good alternative
The first way is working with a mannequin as the patient. Using a mannequin, nursing students can gain experience with moving a patient and physical reality of another body. It can be quite realistic too because patients are not always conscious, and a mannequin can be a good approximation of an unconscious patient.
Simulation process can include High-Tech tools
It is not all mannequins, however. Simulation also involves using high-tech communication such as live video and video conferencing of real life situations. In this type of simulation, the experience is open to the whole class or small groups. Simulation can also be done by setting up a complete mock treatment experience.
Simulation is a new idea in nursing course
Although simulation in nursing education is new, there is a long history of using simulation in other fields as for example, training for nuclear power plants, training for soldiers and in aviation. The item all these have in common is providing training in critical situations which cannot be safely replicated in real life. Even in non-life threatening situations, universities that teach hotel and hospitality skills often have mock hotels and restaurants onsite for students to practice.
Studies show simulation does work
Long-term studies say that simulation does work. Well-designed studies have compared nursing students who received traditional education against two other groups of students who received varying degrees of simulation training instead. The results show no significant differences in students passing their nursing certification exams. Further, follow-up from the first six months of employment found no difference in job performance among the students.
Simulation has potential risks
Some point out that one risk is that mistakes made in training with simulation might not be addressed with the appropriate level of severity. In traditional education, the nurse gets feedback from the patients themselves as well as mistakes clearly having adverse effects on patient health. So, it is incumbent on instructors to take mistakes with mannequins and other simulations as seriously as if a real patient was at stake.
The future of simulation in nursing is promising
Simulation has a bright future in training nurses. Some institutions have even created simulation centers that provide a varied and holistic experience. With studies backing the efficacy of simulation, this technique holds great promise to reduce the shortage of nurses available.
- Simulation is on a par with traditional education for nurses.
- Traditional nursing education required live clinical experience.
- Shortage of clinic experience opportunities makes nursing shortage worse.
- Simulation increases access to education and training.
- Mannequins are a good simulation of a patient’s body.
- Simulation can be done with high tech video sources.
- Nursing follows simulation done in other fields.
- Long-term studies show no difference in education results or job performance.
- Instructors need to treat mistakes made in simulation as equally serious as with a live patient.
- Simulation has a bright future to help overcome shortages of nurses.
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