One of the most remarkable technological boons to healthcare education is virtual simulation teaching for nurses and other students pursuing an education in medicine. In an environment that very closely mimics that of a healthcare facility students can practice their skill and apply their knowledge without putting a patient at risk. Through the use of virtual simulation rising nurses and other medical students make real-time clinical decisions and assessments under the guidance of instructors and professional nurse educators. It clearly seems a win-win for everyone, most of all these students’ future patients.
Technology has advanced the “sim lab” experience beyond what it once was, creating and replicating those experiences and dilemmas commonly faced by healthcare professionals. However, even while the benefits of virtual simulation are renown, there still exists those who aren’t convinced of the value of virtual simulation as a teaching tool. In defense of virtual simulation in healthcare education, here are some valid responses to 5 common objections.
Responses to Common Objections to Virtual Simulation
Virtual Simulation is Too Costly: Virtual simulation labs have the appearance of an animatronic Disneyesque game of some sort. As a learning tool virtual simulation is far beyond a game for students. There are significant learning opportunities for students and immeasurable teaching opportunities for educators. Among the many advantages of this type of teaching tool is the ability of the instructions to repeat learning opportunities as often as deemed necessary so that the students come away with a thorough understanding. The return on investment for virtual learning technology is far more than even that of a textbook.
Educators Don’t Have Time: It seems as though instructors are continually having to adapt and learn new technologies. From software applications to new protocols, the teacher is constantly learning. For this reason alone faculty are hesitant to take on virtual technology as a tool of their curriculum. However many of those virtual simulation providers will provide instruction, support, and troubleshooting as necessary. Should a faculty representative take on the role of mastering the implementation of sim lab the school would have a built-in authority on simulation education.
Virtual Simulation Is Too Removed from Hands-On Patient Care: There are those who argue the ability of a virtual scenario to provide a “real” experience in caring for patients. As nursing education has moved from the halls of hospitals and healthcare centers nursing schools have had to learn to adapt and provide experience. Though nurses are still required to perfect the bulk of their patient care via their clinical the use of virtual simulation in the education experience offered nursing students a richer and deeper understanding of what can happen in real time. Additionally, by practicing the application of their knowledge in a simulated situation, under the direct guidance of instructors, the nursing student becomes more confident in their skills and ability to provide patient care.
It’s Not Real: Indeed a simulation is not real. However for the student who practices in the virtual setting the experience can help them gain exposure to diverse communities and challenges they may not experience in their clinicals. Virtual simulation can provide a much broader view of healthcare for the student than what may be readily accessible to the nursing school. Further discussion in the classroom can add to the nursing student’s ability to associate those virtual experiences when facing them in a real patient care situation.
There’s No Replacement For Bedside Care: This is perhaps one of the biggest hurdles faced by proponents of virtual simulation. The goal of simulation instruction is not to take the place of hands-on patient care, but to enhance the clinical experience overall. Virtual simulation allows the patient care provider to arrive on the professional scene with more than an abstract sense of what could happen.
Patient care is a rigorous and fast-paced environment. Being able to practice and hone nursing skills in real-time clinical environment without posing a potential risk to patients only adds to nursing education. Virtual simulation creates an effective and powerful opportunity for those rising healthcare professionals to learn, apply, and build confidently on their knowledge and skills. Virtual simulation is cost-effective and a valuable technological tool in today’s healthcare education.