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​How to Prepare for Simulation

Simulation Environment Orientation​​​​

Simulation Center and Nursing Resource Laboratory​​​​


What is Healthcare Simulation?

Healthcare simulation uses a variety of techniques to mimic the representation of  healthcare situations for the purpose of learning while practicing in a safe environment. The type of learning that occurs in healthcare simulation is termed, experiential learning and is used for performance improvement, patient safety, working in teams and mastery of procedures through deliberate practice. 

What Do I need to know?

Simulation is considered clinical time. Appropriate clinical attire is required. Pre-simulation activities are planned. See your professor for details.  Also, review the Power Point on How to Prepare for Simulation at​. Ask questions. Come to Open Labs. We are all here to help you succeed. You will experience simulation through-out your program. Simulations are designed to increase in complexity as you move through the nursing specialty courses. 

What is a simulation scenario? 

In simulation, a case is called a scenario. Each scenario focuses on concrete objectives that you should be able to achieve given the theory and prior study and preparation prior to simulation day. An introduction to the environment is first. You will interact with simulators (technology-enhanced simulation manikins), actors, medical/diagnostic equipment and demonstration-drugs. Actors may play patients or family members. The overall idea is to create a realistic vignette that you may likely encounter in the clinical setting, school, home, or specialty unit (such as the Emergency Room). 

How should I behave in simulation? 

We ask all student learners to sign a professional confidentiality and integrity agreement. This document outlines professional behaviors and aligns with the American Nurses Association’s (ANA’s) Code of Ethics.  We ask that you treat a simulated patient case scenario as you would a real patient.  We know this isn’t real. However, we ask you to accept what is called a fiction contract that stipulates then when in simulation, you treat the situation as if it was a real situation.  

Do I have to engage in simulation if I feel anxious or distressed?

No. There is something called an opt-out clause that means if you experience emotional distress you may observe the simulation rather than be participant in it.  You should let your professor know if you feel this way. All facilitators/professors/simulation educators are trained to recognize students in distress and will support you if this ever happens.  There is evidence in the simulation literature that observing simulation can provide a passive opportunity to learn and reflect. This is called vicarious learning. However, unless student distress occurs, all nursing students are expected to participate in simulation as an active learner. 

What happens if I make a mistake in simulation?

Coming to simulation prepared will be your best opportunity to succeed in achieving the objectives.  Ask your professor questions about how best to review for the simulation. Typically similar case studies will be available for review. If you make a mistake in simulation, your professor or simulation educator will review performances immediately after the simulation.  This is called the debriefing.  Mistakes in simulation provide the opportunity to review thinking and actions in a safe environment. We all learn from our mistakes, and simulation provides the environment to make mistakes without harming real patients.  Your professor will tell you what type of performance review is attached to a particular simulation. For example, if simulations in your course are designed to provide foundation skills in simulation 1, then by simulation 3, those foundational skills should be present along with additional skills development.  Remember, feedback in simulation is similar to feedback in clinical. Performance gaps need to be addressed before taking care of real patients. 

How do can I learn from our mistakes?

Immediately after simulation, a debriefing session is held.  The professor conducting the debriefing will use a method of questioning that encourages self-reflection on thinking and performance. This process of reflection creates a conscious path for learning to improve. After reflection, you should think how you will change your approach next time.  Make a note of it and experiment later.  You can use Open Lab time to practice a variety of newly learned skills.  

What can I do if I feel the simulation could have been better? 

After simulation and the debriefing session, students are required to complete post-simulation surveys.  You will have the opportunity to reflect again on anything that wasn’t covered in debriefing and to add comments about what you liked or did not like about the simulation.  This information is extremely helpful, and professors use all student feedback in surveys to try and improve our simulation-based educational activities.  Post-simulation surveys are administered by the CAE Learning System. Your facilitator during NUR222 will show you how to log on to complete data entry.  Students should log on and complete Professional Integrity and Confidentiality Agreement during this orientation. This agreement is an extension of the Academic Honesty Policy (see course syllabus). 

How can I get the most of my simulation experiences?

Be open and honest. Prepare. Relax. Get into it – suspend your disbelief. Value this opportunity to practice without causing harm to real patients.  Be proud of your accomplishments!! Take a tour of the center, meet a simulated patient.  Learn to get comfortable in a simulated environment!  TIME TO HAVE SOME FUN! ​

Page last updated: August 21, 2020