HealthJune 12, 2020

Creating simulated areas in the classroom as a critical resource for students

Jan Cannon MSN, RN
Professor of Nursing

DeeAnne Sisco MSN, RN, CNOR, CBN
Assistant Professor of Nursing

Identifying a Gap

As the complexity of nursing practice continues to explode at unprecedented rates, our graduate nurses who are entering the nursing profession are required to function with a high degree of autonomy and clinical decision making skills. Bridging the gap between the classroom and clinical practice has never been more important for nurse educators to explore. We recognized the value of implementing a pedagogy that replaces non-engaging, traditional classroom environments with tools that foster active learning which will enhance the transition from nursing student into clinical practice roles. We are being challenged in nursing education to provide high impact learning opportunities to enhance learning. Students in our nursing program repeatedly ask for more exposure to simulation activities in their course evaluations. Due to limitations in time and space availability in simulation areas, we identified the need for a mid-level fidelity simulation area to be created and used in the classroom, where students can demonstrate mastery of concepts through active student participation.

The Goal

  1. Decrease attrition and increase completion among our first year nursing students.

  2. Add simulation to the classroom environment so that it ensures critical learning components are covered in every student’s education. This will make sure they have the skills necessary to build exceptional clinical judgment for future entry level practice and beyond.

Although there are many factors which contribute to high attrition, we recognize that first year nursing students are entering an educationally rigorous program with a limited science background. This requires them to speak a language which is foreign to them. They are expected to function in the role of a nurse from day one with little to no health science background and they are expected to pass exams which are reflective of NCLEX-RN. They are being tested on foreign concepts they hear about in lecture but have never laid eyes on before because they have yet to go into the clinical setting as part of their educational experience.

Humble Beginnings

One year ago, we had a vision to create a “mini” hospital room in the Level 1 classroom. We borrowed a discarded and broken bed, broken bedside table, and an old mannequin from the Nursing Resource Center (NRC). We borrowed a headwall with O2 and suction components that was not being used. The setup was very basic, but it allowed us to create some low fidelity simulations/case studies to enhance the learning experience in the classroom. It was a great place to start, and the students have expressed the benefit of this hands on experience. They love it!

Since the inception of our “little hospital room” in the classroom, our vision has continued to grow. We have seen first-hand the true value in the learning that is taking place inside our classroom. We recognize a critical need to create a safe space for interactive, hands-on learning, which will connect the content to clinical judgement, build patient interaction skills, boost student confidence, enhance patient safety, and enhance a foundation for testing at the application or higher level. Moreover, creating a simulated classroom will assist in meeting program and course learning outcomes. It is our goal to continue to utilize our simulation corner complete with mid-fidelity Nurse Kelly mannequin and other tools and supplies to revolutionize the classroom experience for our first year nursing students. In addition to creating a mid-fidelity simulation area in the classroom, we incorporate our electronic health record as part of the experience.  The opportunities for learning are limitless.

In Conclusion

This simulated area in the classroom functions as a critical resource for students who are assuming the nursing role. We believe our students gain an increased understanding of course material as a result of participation in simulated patient scenarios, as well as observe a decreased in failures on corresponding course examinations, which translate a more successful clinical experience. This is a unique opportunity for first-year nursing faculty to incorporate cooperative/problem based learning activities within the classroom to engage the learner, promote ownership of the material being taught, advance the development of higher-level cognitive skills, increase retention among first year nursing students, and ultimately, prepare the student for transition into the role of registered nurse.