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HealthAugust 01, 2019

Virtual simulation revolutionizes nurse education

Imagine preparing a nurse for practice in a range of community settings and scenarios that he or she might not ordinarily experience through classroom instruction alone.

These days, you don’t have to imagine the experience. A new wave of gaming-oriented technologies supplements and even partially replaces traditional clinical training to prepare student nurses to assess communities and design interventions for entire populations of people, such as victims of elder abuse, battered women’s shelters, and prisons to name a few.

It’s a revolutionary approach that not only immerses students in complex, fictionalized clinical scenarios showing the complexity of population healthcare, but also offers additional activities that allow them to explore population health challenges in their own communities. This approach also helps augment other types of real-world learning and clinical activities and extend the value of other learning techniques – whether they take place on campus, online or in practice settings.

Taking the fiction out of simulation

Virtual simulation leads nurse students through encounters to test their understanding of the nurse’s role and to help with clinical reasoning and judgment. It provides a less-risky approach to help students get practical exposure to community-based settings, situations, and populations without the legal, safety, and ethical concerns associated with settings that may be too sensitive, too dangerous, or where populations may be vulnerable.By having virtual clinical experiences first, nurse students gain a foundation to apply what they’re learning to their own communities and broader domestic and global public health issues. Through engaging video-game platforms, students are able to observe the real-life application of key community, public and population health concepts in both urban and rural environments while actively developing their clinical skills.

A new era in nurse education

After a ground-breaking study, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) recognized that simulation could replace up to half of traditional clinical hours, opening up an alternative way to offer clinical experiences to nursing students. In fact, research shows that 65 percent of nursing education programs currently use virtual simulation. The use of technology and virtual simulation is, undoubtedly, changing the face of nursing education.

This is hugely important when it comes to exposing students to enough community and public health settings, situations and populations required to gain the necessary experience.

While Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees require students to take a clinical course (in addition to clinical hours) in community health nursing, the course is given in a single semester. So, engaging students in this important field of healthcare and giving them practical experience with working in complex and sometimes contentious situations can be challenging.

Virtual scenarios expose students to a wide variety of clinical encounters helping them to gain proficiency in complex practice environments, such as natural disaster sites, domestic violence shelters, correctional facilities, homes with safety hazards or public health clinics.

Furthermore, clinical simulations developing students’ population healthcare competence potentially opens the door to expanding their studies at a later stage and transitioning to a community or public health role.

As the healthcare environment continues to move from acute to community-based care, there will be a pressing need for nurses with relevant experience. Where gaining real-life experience is either not possible due to lack of places or not practical from a safety perspective, virtual learning may be the best way for nursing programs to immerse students in different public health settings and give them insight into potential career paths.

vSim® for Nursing
Equip every student with clinical experience through virtual simulation.
vSim’s interactive virtual patient simulations are based on scenarios also included in your Lippincott® nursing textbooks, allowing students to get to know these virtual patients as their cases progress and evolve — just like real-world nurse-patient interaction.
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