Patient encounters are instrumental in nursing education to integrate didactic learning with clinical experiences and prepare students for core client needs competencies evaluated on standardized examinations and on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Previously, undergraduate nursing students have shown difficulty connecting management of care concepts from didactic content to patient activities care. To overcome the lack of access to clinical experiences due to COVID-19, the College of Nursing integrated virtual nursing simulations to supplement student learning experiences. While high fidelity simulation has been proven as an effective clinical replacement in nursing education, virtual simulations (vSims) are an innovative educational strategy with limited studies evaluating its impact on improving core nursing competencies. Based on the principles of gamification, vSims present realistic learning experiences that provide instant gratification while improving critical thinking skills and clinical decision making. During the summer nursing semester, the Spring 2021 cohort was assigned five vSims, which focused on the care of patients in a medical-surgical unit, for 33% (32 hours) of their required clinical hours. The assigned vSims highlighted professional competencies evaluated on the NCLEX-RN including management of care, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. While limited feedback has been gathered on the nursing students’ experiences and satisfaction with vSims, students in the Spring 2021 cohort utilizing vSims during the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated an 8.5% increase on the HESI standardized Management exam over the previous two cohorts whose students did not receive vSim hours. In addition, the mean score for these students was 21 points higher than the National HESI average. Continued evaluation and data collection over the next few cohorts is needed to see if improvement continues.
Patel, Sarah; Heidi Orehek; and Adreanne Cordova. "The Impact of Virtual Simulations on Undergraduate Nursing Student Success in Managing Patient Care." (2021). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/hsc_ed_day/88