HealthOctober 19, 2016

Virtual simulations help students think like nurses so they can succeed as nurses

Nurses must do critical thinking every day and virtually every moment on the job. Nursing is at the analytical level of Bloom's Taxonomy and requires higher-level thinking, which is essential when patient lives are at stake.

But critical thinking has always been a pain point for nursing education, as many faculty admit being unsure how to teach it while employers lament that too many new nursing graduates are ill-equipped to actually do it. This is where active learning and nursing simulations for student can be a massively beneficial educational tool.

What does it mean to think like a nurse?

How can we prepare nurses to reason clinically, to recognize when patients may be running into difficulty, to set priorities, to advocate effectively for a particular choice of treatment? Or, to actually “think like a nurse?”

One promising answer emerging from the integration of technology with nursing education is active learning—or the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of content as opposed to its memorization (passive learning). Another simple way to think of it is as the good old-fashioned “hands-on learning” we’ve always loved.

By allowing students to “get their hands dirty” with real-world patient care, nursing programs are helping to instill the personal confidence that is essential during a time of crisis and rapid decision-making.

Beyond the manikins

Nursing educators are no strangers to active learning. It’s been used in one form or another for years via the ubiquitous manikins on which students learn to draw blood and perform other basic procedures on.

But, now with the power of virtual simulators like vSim® for Nursing, educators have the ability to make active learning a much bigger part of their curricula—and thus dramatically improve students’ retention and performance.

To encourage active learning, educators have to structure lesson plans and homework in a way that students understand how what they are doing applies to real life. Virtual nursing simulations allow students to immediately see how their care decisions affect their virtual patients.

More flexibility and greater variation

In addition, nursing simulations for student expose them to far more decision-making scenarios (e.g., patient demographics, vitals, symptoms, procedures) than what is available with traditional mannequins. While mannequins do allow students to develop essential hand motor skills, they are solely for in-class or lab use. Virtual simulations offer anytime, anywhere access so students can develop critical thinking skills on their own time or part of instructor-directed assignments.

As more nursing programs grasp the importance of building active learning into their curricula, virtual simulations must be a central tool for helping students develop critical thinking.

Is your nursing program ready to bring nursing simulations to the classroom?

We’re offering a free implementation guide that provides strategies for use of vSim for Nursing in programs across all types of nursing education. It provides faculty with ideas on how to integrate vSim into existing curricula and offers ways to develop and/or enhance current teaching strategies.

Download the Free Guide Now! 

Additional resource:

Free White Paper: Clinical Redesign: Is Your Program Ready for Today’s Needs?

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