A new award-winning study, “The NCSBN National Simulation Study: a longitudinal, randomized, controlled study replacing clinical hours with simulation in prelicensure nursing education,” offers strong evidence supporting the use of high-quality health care simulation as a substitute for up to 50% of traditional clinical time. The findings also reveal that a key factor in successful nursing education simulation programs is a dedicated team of educators who are well trained in the best practices of theory-based simulation and debriefing methods.
Dr. Pamela Jeffries, president of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH), notes that the rigorous research conducted through this landmark National Council State Board of Nursing (NCSBN) study delivers data that will encourage nursing board regulators and nurse educators to call for the incorporation into all programs of these best practices, implementation of a robust program evaluation plan, and provision of support, resources, and training to nursing faculty using simulation-based pedagogy. She explains, “Well-prepared, competent faculty dedicated and committed to the school’s simulation program—who are eager to provide learner support, and conduct theory-based debriefing, use life-like equipment and supplies to facilitate realism of the simulation—will in turn earn the dedication of nursing students seeking to acquire quality clinical education.”
Jeffries, a professor of nursing who served as an advisor to the study, encourages nursing education programs to explore more in-depth and standardized training for their simulations teams. “There are training programs, advanced degrees, and certificates available through a variety of formats in numerous locations across the country,” she notes, adding that SSH also has developed high-quality certification programs for individuals who perform those health care simulations every day, including educators, operations specialists, and faculty who have progressed to a more advanced role in their practice of health care simulation. “If you want to get started and learn more about the science and the resources,” Jeffries recommends attending "Simulation Celebration," the 2015 annual International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare on January 10-15 in New Orleans.
“The identification of appropriate and available clinical education sites is becoming more difficult as nursing and other healthcare enrollments grow.” she concludes. “Most are filled to capacity and emerging technologies are further straining their resources. Clinical education must shift strategies. These study results offer educators the liberty to use more simulation experiences, particularly for those low-incidence, high risk critical behaviors all nurses need to learn and experience. With the right training, a dedicated team, and adequate resources we can confidently increase simulations to alleviate the growing shortage clinical space, knowing that we will not adversely affect educational outcomes.”
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