Happy Groundhog Day!
Ok, so I’m a few days late but that’s the beauty of Groundhog Day, if you forget something or make a mistake you get a chance to do it over correctly. At least that’s what I’ve been lead to believe by the 1993 movie starring Bill Murray. In Groundhog Day the movie, Murray’s character, Phil Connors relives a dreadful Feb. 2 over and over, making mistakes like robbing a bank, submerging a toaster in the bathtub and being a self-centered, obnoxious person. He finally breaks the cycle when he learns from his mistakes and starts making the right choices like being less egocentric and treating others with respect.
If you think about it, Groundhog Day is a lot like the use of simulation technology in nursing education. The goal of simulation is to provide nursing students with realistic patient care experiences without real patients. Educators can program high-fidelity mannequins like Laerdal’s SimMan to replicate scenarios like a respiratory arrest or a cardiac event. Their SimMom can even give birth.
Through these simulation experiences, nursing students can practice their clinical and critical thinking skills. If a mistake is made, say you make a choice that kills your ‘patient,’ no harm comes to any actual human beings. After students run through a scenario, educators will often hold a debriefing where they discuss what was done, what could be done better and what was done right. Students get to learn from their mistakes and hone their critical thinking skills. At least that’s the hope of those using simulation in nursing education.
Yet, according the 2010 report “Simulation in Nursing Education: A Review of the Research” by Pamela G. Stanford of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, data on student outcomes and simulation education is minimal. Do nursing students who learn via simulation have better clinical- and critical-thinking skills than ones who learn the old-fashioned way? And how much simulation can replace hands on clinical time in a hospital with actual patients?
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing created its National Simulation Study to answer these questions. The study launched in the fall of 2011 and will follow new nursing students at 10 nursing schools across the U.S. After graduation, they will continue to be assessed for one year into their nursing practice.
This study may provide some insight into the effectiveness of simulation in nursing education. Other organizations like the National League of Nursing are focusing on the quality and use of simulation in nursing education. NLN’s Simulation Innovation Resource Center is a site where “nursing faculty can learn how to develop and integrate simulation into their curriculum, and engage in dialogue with experts and peers.”
Nurses and their IT counterparts can also get involved in simulation education quality with the The Society for Simulation in Healthcare. The society, whose membership is multi-discipinary, promotes “improvements in simulation technology, educational methods, practitioner assessment, and patient safety that promote better patient care and can improve patient outcome.”
Simulation is a growing tool that many say holds much promise. Let’s hope we see more and more data to back this anectdotal evidence up.
Example of a SimMan in use in nursing education:
Jennifer Thew, RN, MSJ
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