Preparing Nursing Faculty for Simulation in the Academic Setting
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Preparing Nursing Faculty for Simulation in the Academic Setting

By Scott Hudson, MSN, RN, Director of the Simulation and Skills Center, The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing

Scott Hudson, MSN, RN, Director of the Simulation and Skills Center, The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing

In the field of educating nursing professionals, there has been steady growth in the use of simulation to supplement and even replace some portion of the hours that a student spends in the clinical setting. Along with that growth has been the increased need for nursing educators who are specifically trained in the use of simulation as a full and mature pedological methodology.

Much of this growth can be attributed to the findings in a2014 landmark study on nursing education and simulation, which stated “…that up to 50% simulation can be effectively substituted for traditional clinical experience in all prelicensure core nursing courses under conditions comparable to those described in the study. These conditions include faculty members who are formally trained in simulation pedagogy, [and] an adequate number of faculty members to support the student learners…”

For many institutions it can be a struggle to ensure that they have adequate numbers of faculty who are well versed in the pedagogy of simulation. Due to increased competition for access to clinical sites, identifying and training existing faculty or hiring new faculty trained in simulation frequently has to be done simultaneous to increasing the number and quality of simulated clinical experiences. Finding enough clinical sites to support programmatic growth has for many schools become a real challenge. This is due to increasing enrollments in existing schools of nursing, the opening of new nursing programs, and the development of hospital-based nurse residency programs for onboarding new nurses after graduation.

There are a number of ways that schools of nursing are dealing with the training issue. One frequently used method is to designate one or more faculty or staff members as the Simulation Liaison or similar title. In the best cases, the Liaison has had formal education related to the simulation development, application and debriefing methods. Often this is a combination of formal and informal training plus a great deal of on-the-job training. The Liaison works along with other in-house simulation faculty and staff to develop and provide the training and oversight needed to help faculty become competent in simulation pedagogy.

"Identifying resources for training that are readily available, affordable and effective can be a challenge for institutions and individuals, but it is a challenge that can be met to ensure that simulated clinical experiences are of the quality and quantity needed to be safe and efficacious"

For many faculty members, a good option for fundamental and continuing education is the expanding collections of professional journals, specialist journals, and dedicated simulation journals with historic and current articles that focus on developing, running and evaluating the efficaciousness of simulation. These publications, along with a growing catalog of books, e-books, online videos and presentations, represent current, diverse and relatively available and affordable resources for faculty at any level of educational development.

Many schools host workshops with simulation education experts as a cost-effective way to prepare groups of faculty in simulation methodology. This can be especially effective when combined with opportunities for hands-on practice in the techniques as they learn. Alternately or in addition, institutional colleagues getting training by experienced in-house Simulation Educators can help to sustain the simulation program growth.

Many vendors of simulation equipment and software will provide not only training specific to their products, but may also provide support for more general educational workshops as faculty development opportunities.

Professional organizations such as the National League of Nursing, and simulation-focused organizations like the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSiH)host annual international, regional and local conferences that feature multiple sessions with educational tracks on development in simulation methods and support educational levels from the novice to expert. Simulationists can document their mastery of simulation pedagogy by achieving certification as Healthcare Simulation Educators through the SSiH. To do so, they must apply and show they have the requisite education, years of experience, and then pass a rigorous certification exam.

As a need for more formal educational pathways has developed, there has been a rise in the number of universities that are offering courses, certificate programs, and degrees in teaching with simulation. These programs are targeted toward faculty who need to gain knowledge and experience in the field and also want formal documentation that they have the requisite education to provide quality experiential learning opportunities for their students.

Closing:

In the past twenty years, there has been a rapid expansion of the use of simulation as a teaching methodology for nursing education. Along with that growth is the need to find and/or train qualified educators who have mastered the pedagogy of simulation.Identifying resources for training that are readily available, affordable, and effective can be a challenge for institutions and individuals, but it is a challenge that can be met to ensure that simulated clinical experiences are of the quality and quantity to be safe and efficacious.

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