Nothing beats hands-on experience. But for nurses looking to improve their skills, the right hands-on learning can be difficult to find. There are only so many medical issues any given nurse is likely to regularly encounter in the clinic. Fortunately, there’s a way around this problem: online simulators.
More and more nurses—and more and more nursing programs—are turning to virtual clinical simulation to mimic the experience of treating a wide variety of conditions. And research shows these simulations can make a real difference. Online simulation can:
Traditionally, nurse education has included actors portraying patients or mannequins serving as patient stand-ins. Both methods of instruction suffer from an inability to replicate a wide-array of health problems and patient interactions. For example, an actor can’t fake an irregular heartbeat while a mannequin can’t answer questions or show human emotion. A high-quality online simulator, however, can replicate a full range of conditions and interactions, simulating everything from a heart attack to a stroke to pregnancy complications to post-surgical complications to patient noncompliance. By realistically mimicking these situations, the simulators allow nurses and nursing students to experience diagnosing and treating medical problems in a low-risk setting. This allows them to be more prepared to handle a real medical crisis when it arises in the clinic.
In book-learning and paper-test scenarios, nurses are removed from the experience of being near a patient. Plus, in classroom environments, nurses often lean on the instructor. Online simulators help solve both of these issues by replicating the experience of dealing with a patient in the midst of a health problem/crisis. Instead of medical treatment being theoretical, it feels real and immediate. The scenarios mimicked by the simulators force nurses to use their critical thinking abilities to not only treat the most pressing problem but to identify and treat any underlying or secondary problems as well. Research has shown that these experiences help nurses improve their ability to recognize patient conditions or status and adapt their assessment techniques for specific patients and situations.1
Experience builds expertise and expertise builds confidence. Studies have shown that, by providing nurses with more experience than they would get in a standard clinical setting, virtual clinical simulations can boost nurses’ confidence in their ability to make the right decisions.1
The practice of medicine is often a team effort. Because of this, many virtual clinical simulations are designed so that multiple nurses can work together. This simulated teamwork is helping nurses elevate their communication skills. Recently, a pilot study of nursing students found virtual clinical simulation helped the students more than double their communication performance scores.2
If you’re looking to advance your nursing skills, the best choice you can make is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Not only can a collegiate-level nursing degree prepare you for the modern challenges of nursing but it can also improve your nursing career. That’s because the National Academy of Medicine wants 80% of the nursing workforce to hold at least a BSN degree by 2020.3 Earning your bachelor’s now can help you avoid falling behind in your career later.
The good news is, online education is making it more convenient than ever to earn your degree. Instead of reducing your hours to return to nursing school, you can enroll in an online BSN program and complete the majority of your coursework—and your virtual clinical simulations—from home. Plus, online nursing programs give you the flexibility to attend classes at whatever time of day you choose, making it possible for you to continue working all of your shifts while completing your degree.
Adding to the advantages of online learning, many online nursing schools offer an RN to BSN option. If you’ve completed an RN program, you can enroll in an online RN to BSN program and accelerate your learning. It’s just another way online nursing degree programs and technology are helping nurses like you advance their skills and expand their career possibilities.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing RN-BSN Completion Program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.