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It’s no secret that technological advances have profoundly changed the landscape of the world—including the way healthcare students learn to think critically, act quickly, and work effectively. 

Nursing simulation labs are a superb example. Designed to mimic real-life patient care scenarios, they employ various methods to strengthen nurses’ education in a controlled, interactive, and risk-free environment.1

Whether you’re new to nursing school or exploring the idea of entering a nursing program, here’s the lowdown on simulation in nursing education—and why these labs are vital to a career in medicine.

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What is a Nursing Simulation Lab?

The first nursing simulation lab dates back to the early 20th century, when mannequins were used to show future nurses how to change, dress, and move patients.2 In the last hundred-plus years, they’ve evolved dramatically to replicate a realistic clinical setting, such as emergency rooms and urgent care centers, all intending to mentally and psychologically coach different types of nurses to handle both standard and rare circumstances.

The most prevalent nursing simulation labs boil down to the following:

  • High-fidelity mannequins – The mannequins of yore have matured into high-fidelity, full-body mannequins that possess human-like physiologies and anatomies. These mannequins—which can talk, cry, show signs of a seizure, and more—are computer-controlled to provide nurses-in-training with cues and scenarios that test their nursing skills and knowledge. These mannequins ultimately deepen nurses’ understanding of how the human body works.3
  • Low-fidelity mannequins – Low-fidelity mannequins are two-dimensional simulators that give students the chance to work methodically and mindfully on a certain task.
  • Role-playing and volunteer patients – Role-playing mirrors high-fidelity mannequins but relies on real people. While it may not be the most advanced technology in nursing, it can be a terrific way to teach nurses the importance of collaboration. Meanwhile, volunteer patients enable nursing students to refine their communication and intake skills.
  • Partial-task simulators – Partial-task simulators follow the same model as mannequins but are restricted to a specific body part, such as a foot or an arm. 

Additionally, nursing simulation labs may include virtual reality, computer programs, and case studies, which are used to prepare nurses for the rigors of the profession. 

Why Are Nursing Simulation Labs Important?

Coursework and clinical rotations are a fundamental part of a nurse’s education. Nursing simulations operate as a bridge between the two. Because they utilize computerized mannequins, fellow students, virtual reality, and other instruments, actual humans aren’t at risk of getting harmed.

Nonetheless, the hands-on learning experience these settings offer is an invaluable way for nurses to learn how to:

  • Assess a patient’s symptoms—and what steps to take to treat them
  • Request consent from a physician
  • Work as a team with healthcare professionals
  • Triage in emergency situations
  • Manage patients with mental health complications
  • Provide end-of-life care
  • Practice key duties, such as intravenous insertions
  • Track patients and their progress
  • Adjust and hone their communication skills
  • Overcome fear and anxiety

Studies indicate that simulation in nursing education helps students turn theories into practice while boosting their self-esteem and enhancing their ability to make timely, crucial decisions.4 What’s more, nursing simulation labs work toward building muscle memory in students to perform essential tasks swiftly and with efficacy.5

Nursing Simulation Lab Process

Nursing simulation labs are typically broken down into three phases:

  • Pre-Briefing – Before starting a clinical simulation, nursing students are equipped with a broad overview of the experiential learning lab and a general understanding of their instructor’s hopes and objectives.
  • Simulation – The healthcare simulation itself will depend on its purpose and where the student is on their educational journey. For example, a student might be tasked with treating an injury or illness on a high-fidelity mannequin or asked to insert a catheter into a urethra in a partial-task simulator. The former forces students to create treatment plans and conduct procedures with speed and dexterity; the latter helps students improve their manual tasks and commit routine duties to memory.
  • Debriefing – Students reflect on how they reacted and/or the procedures they performed. They’re also given counsel on preventing mistakes and enriching their techniques. Students may have the chance to discuss their concerns and create a game plan for future healthcare simulations. 

Prepare for a Nursing Career with Alliant International University

Nursing lab simulations are an imperative aspect of a nurse’s education, permitting students to polish their clinical skills in hyper-authentic situations—whether it’s treating a mock patient with respiratory distress or tending to a woman going into labor.

Our School of Nursing and Health Sciences offers students a sophisticated, ultra-modern simulation lab to practice and perfect both the everyday and unusual duties asked of nurses. With intimate class sizes and online instruction, you will gain the knowledge to walk into a medical setting confidently and competently.

Start building a meaningful, lasting career in healthcare with Alliant International University. 


Sources: 

  1. Munday, Rebecca. “Types of Simulation in Nursing Education.” NurseJournal, November 15, 2022. https://nursejournal.org/resources/types-of-simulation-in-nursing-educa…;
  2. Aebersold , Michelle. “Simulation-Based Learning: No Longer a Novelty in Undergraduate Education.” OJIN, April 3, 2018. https://ojin.nursingworld.org/table-of-contents/volume-23-2018/number-2…;
  3. “High Fidelity Simulation: Healthcare Simulation.” HealthySimulation.com, March 21, 2019. https://www.healthysimulation.com/high-fidelity-simulation/#. 
  4. Koukourikos, Konstantinos, Areti Tsaloglidou, Lambrini Kourkouta, Ioanna V Papathanasiou, Christos Iliadis, Aikaterini Fratzana, and Aspasia Panagiotou. “Simulation in Clinical Nursing Education.” Acta informatica medica : AIM : journal of the Society for Medical Informatics of Bosnia & Herzegovina : casopis Drustva za medicinsku informatiku BiH, March 29, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8116070/. 
  5. “The Nursing Sim Lab – Learn How to Master the Experience: Lecturio Nursing.” Lecturio, May 12, 2023. https://www.lecturio.com/blog/nursing/the-nursing-sim-lab-learn-how-to-…;

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