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Nowadays simulation is quite a valuable tool in many fields, which is used to improve productivity, competence, or just to test new approaches to problem-solving. Nursing education is another field where simulation is being effectively implemented. Using simulation in nursing education has its benefits and drawbacks. However, the positive aspects of simulations outweigh the negative sides of this practice.
There are many benefits of using simulation in nursing education. A number of educators and researchers claim that this practice is crucial for the improvement of critical thinking skills of the students and for a chance to practice some situations in a relatively safe environment before actually going into the field of nursing. In the review of the research on simulation in nursing education Sanford (2010) provides some strong evidence in favor of simulations. A number of researchers have found that nursing students value such experience for the chance of practicing their skills before becoming actual nurses. Moreover, some students stated that this is a chance to combine their theoretical knowledge with lab skills.
On the other hand, there are some drawbacks mentioned both by educators and nursing students. Among some of the disadvantages of simulations was the inability to see some physical reactions of the patients (like swelling or bruising). To say more, constructing simulation scenarios is a lengthy and effort-consuming process which doesn’t always pay back to full extent (Sanford, 2010). Those are some of the disadvantages connected to simulations.
In my opinion, simulations should not be overlooked by nursing educators and administrators. I strongly believe that advantages of such programs are more convincing than disadvantages. For the increased effectiveness of such programs it is possible to combine them with short theory sessions before the beginning of the simulation and a group discussion with the instructor and peers after the session. The students may become a valuable source in designing simulation scenarios since they know well what aspects of their nursing education they would like to try out. I think that grades are not essential in this process, but the role of the instructor and his/her feedback is crucial. Young professionals need to see what they were doing right and where they need to improve their skills. Therefore, assessment should take place in a form of written and oral feedback. It also might be a good idea to require the students to write a report on their experience.