How do we teach nursing students in the 21st century? Is there a way to adequately prepare them for the critical thinking, clinical reasoning, communication, and interprofessional skills they need to navigate the health care system? The demand for nurses continues to increase, and health care administrators are looking for “change agents” who can navigate the complex system and oversee a patient, family, community, and a population’s plan of care. Nursing faculty are now being encouraged to integrate interprofessional skills. But how can they best do this?
My belief is that the answer lies in using the multiple tools available to us in this new and exciting technological age. Eight years ago, as my colleagues and I began envisioning building an innovative learning center that incorporated high fidelity human patient simulators (HPSs), computer-assisted instruction, personal response systems (clickers), and faculty expertise and creativity, I never could have imagined the revolution in health care education. At that time, the price of HPSs was reasonable and you could find one in almost every nursing school. Yet, educators struggled to build their resource centers, get faculty buy-in and professional development, and learn how to best use the equipment and integrate simulation into their curriculum. Drawing on very different experiences in public and private institutions, my co-editor and I recruited authors from within our own faculty to write the first edition of Simulation Scenarios for Nurse Educators: Making It Real (2009).
When we did national focus groups two years ago to get a take on the pulse of nurse educators, the survey and focus group information helped us to craft the second edition of the book. It still provides a practical, step-by-step guide to designing and developing simulation scenarios, but it is enhanced by almost double the number of scenarios. New authors from a variety of institutions across the US were recruited to write chapters. There is a whole new section with advanced practice nurse scenarios (for Family Nurse Practitioners, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Home Care Nurses). All of the scenarios outline the objectives met within the NCLEX-RN® Test Plan and the Baccalaureate and Master’s Essentials (AACN), and they are easily adapted to a variety of laboratory settings (academic or practice). Suggestions for increasing complexity are provided, and authors share information about their programs and how they have mastered integrating simulation into their curriculum, class, lab, and clinical experiences.
For many nursing programs and for practice sites who are working to maintain competency in their practitioners, these scenarios are an excellent springboard to jumpstart their program. In addition, many scenarios incorporate roles for interprofessional practitioners or can easily be adapted for their use.
Although simulations are a good introduction to complex health environments, evidenced based practice, and appropriate clinical skills and communication techniques, they can never replace the clinical practice experience nursing students gain at the bed-side with expert nurses. The debrief component of simulations provide opportunities for reflection on actions that can enhance student learning and increase student competence for clinical practice. Helping nursing faculty gain a level of comfort with the use of innovative educational strategies such as simulation will lead to improved education of nurses for the 21st century.